El Judio Maravilloso
October 19, 2006 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Larry Harlowe (born Lawrence Kahn) was a Jewish kid from a racially mixed Brooklyn neigborhood who discovered the clave rhythm. Encouraged by his musician parents, he pursued his new love and became one of the genre's most admired players and one of the first artists signed to the legendary Fania (lovingly annotated reissues are on the street from this label), working with legends of the form. He also was one of the men behind 'Hommy,' the first 'salsa opera,' about a deaf-dumb-and-blind conga player (gee, that sounds familiar). One of the more interesting and illustrious musical charcters of our time.
posted by jonmc (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
and I misspelled 'Harlow,' in the first link. yo soy estupido.
posted by jonmc at 9:14 AM on October 19, 2006

Well I forgive the spelling mistake because the post is exemplary in the way it's written. I say that because I'm persuaded to now go and look at some links that I might ordinarily pass over. Good one jonmc - you have gained my interest.
posted by peacay at 9:42 AM on October 19, 2006

see also: Harlow's DVD documentary of the History of Salsa
posted by jonmc at 9:42 AM on October 19, 2006

Thanks for the interesting post. I'm no expert on Afro-Cuban music, but I think the clave rhythms, particularly in son, pre-date Harlow. According to this, they first appeared around the beginning of the 20th century in the Oriente province in Cuba. What do you mean when you say he discovered the clave rhythm?
posted by carlitos at 9:44 AM on October 19, 2006

also, the lastest print edition of the superlative music journal Wax Poetics features some vintage photos of the Fania crew, including Larry Harlow, plus an excellent interview with boogaloo legend and fellow semi-outsider (as an Filipino/African-American rather than Caribbean Latino) in salsa based music, Joe Bataan.
posted by jonmc at 9:47 AM on October 19, 2006

I'm no expert on Afro-Cuban music, but I think the clave rhythms, particularly in son, pre-date Harlow.

I meant 'discovered' as in, 'he heard them and decided to become a salsa musician', not 'he invented them.'

Apologies if I was misunderstood.
posted by jonmc at 9:49 AM on October 19, 2006

Yeah, I second what carlitos said, but I take it you meant "he discovered" as in "he came across it", not as "he invented it"
posted by micayetoca at 9:50 AM on October 19, 2006

oh damn, not only did you beat me to explain it, but in my previous comment I forgot to say "cool post, jonmc, thx for it!!
posted by micayetoca at 9:52 AM on October 19, 2006

micayetoca, I 100% agree about the deep Afro-Cuban roots of salsa & boogaloo and I give credit where credit is due. I just think Harlowe is a talented musician and an interesting guy in his own right as well.
posted by jonmc at 9:53 AM on October 19, 2006

also, through my job, I've gotten to see the Fania reissues mentioned in the post. Not only Harlowe, but Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, Joe Bataan, Justo Betancourt, and countless others are coming and they've been wonderfully repackaged and annotated.
posted by jonmc at 9:58 AM on October 19, 2006

Thanks for clarifying, jonmc. The Fania site is great! Now I have something to listen to for the rest of the afternoon!
posted by carlitos at 10:13 AM on October 19, 2006

That deaf dumb and blind kid, sure played a mean stick-ball! Bah dah bah bah dah dah!
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:57 AM on October 19, 2006

Fania is awesome. I also suggest people track down The Lebron Brothers and other Brooklyn saleseros. The song "Let's Go Get Stoned" is particularly special.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2006

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