Salsa star Larry Harlow, known affectionately in the Latin music world as El Judío Maravilloso (“the marvelous Jew”), will headline the Tucson Jazz Society’s Downtown Tucson Latin Jazz Festival on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. at the Tucson Convention Center’s Leo Rich Theatre.
Born Lawrence Ira Kahn in Brooklyn, N.Y., Harlow acknowledges his father, Buddy, a professional bass player, and his mother, Rose Sherman, an opera singer, as his earliest musical influences. A graduate of the N.Y. High School of Music and Art, Harlow initially fell in love with jazz. But as a teen he became fascinated by the music and culture of the New York Latino community, leading him to visit Cuba in the late 1950s. After two years studying Afro-Cuban music, he returned to New York, becoming a top bandleader. Signed by the Fania Record Company, he developed the explosive trumpet/trombone sound of the contemporary salsa band in the early ’70s.
A pianist, songwriter, producer and arranger, Harlow made more than 40 albums under his own name and produced hundreds more for Fania. He led a campaign for Latin music to be given greater recognition at the Grammy Awards, resulting in the establishment of the Latin Grammys. In 2008, Harlow received the Latin Grammy Trustee’s Award, a recognition of his lifetime achievement.
The Downton Tucson Latin Jazz Festival begins Friday, Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. with a free salsa dance party at La Placita Plaza, featuring Tito Y Tu Nuevo Son. Tickets for the Sept. 11 concert are $25 ($20 for TJS members with discount code) and are available from ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-595-4849 or at the door.