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Tue, 12.18.1928

Harold Land born

Harold Land

*Harold Land was born on this date in 1928.  He was a Black hard bop and post-bop jazz tenor saxophonist. 

Harold de Vance Land was born in Houston and grew up in San Diego. He started playing at the age of 16. He made his first recording as the leader of the Harold Land All-Stars, for Savoy Records in 1949. In 1954 he joined the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, with whom he was at the forefront of the hard bop/bebop movement.  Because of family problems he moved to Los Angeles in 1955. There he played with Curtis Counce, led his own groups, and co-led groups with Bobby Hutcherson, Blue Mitchell, and Red Mitchell. From the 1970s. 

In the early 1980s through to the early 1990s he worked regularly with the Timeless All Stars; a group sponsored by the Timeless jazz record label.  Land also toured with his own band during this time, often including his son, Harold Land Jr., on piano. During these years he played regularly at Hop Singh’s in Marina Del Rey in the L.A area and the Keystone Korner in San Francisco.  Land was a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He joined the UCLA Jazz Studies Program as a lecturer in 1996 to teach instrumental jazz combo. "Harold Land was one of the major contributors in the history of the jazz saxophone," said jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell, founder and director of the UCLA Jazz Studies Program. 

Land who died in July 27, 2001, from a stroke, at the age of 72 developed his hard bop playing with his own inventive and whimsical solos. His tone was strong and emotional yet hinted at a certain introspective fragility.  Land had an inimitably dark tone within the hard-bop and modal jazz paradigms. Over time this would contrast more and more with the brighter tonalities of more Coltrane-influenced saxophonists, although Land started to implement Coltrane's musical innovations. Land's "dire, brooding tenor saxophone sound began somewhere between rhythm and blues and Coleman Hawkins, and after the early 1960s owed more and more to John Coltrane's harmonies, phrasing and experiments with modalism."  

The progressive rock band Yes included a song "Harold Land" on their eponymous debut album in 1969. In a news/blog post on 20 September 2010, Bill Bruford commented about the song - "Harold Land was a hard-bop tenor saxophone player, dead now, but quite why we named a song after him I can’t remember."

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