Thursday, January 05, 2012
Harold Land (1928-2001)
Been doing a little reading on jazz saxophonist Harold Land, who passed away in 2001. Here's the NYT obituary:
Harold Land, 73, Saxophonist Who Made a Splash in the Bop Era
By BEN RATLIFF
Published: July 30, 2001
Harold Land, a West Coast tenor saxophonist who had a brush with the jazz pantheon through a brief tenure with the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet in the mid-1950's, died on Friday in Los Angeles. He was 73 and lived in Los Angeles.
The cause was a stroke, said his wife, Lydia.
Mr. Land was performing with great strength even until last year as part of the Harold Land-Billy Higgins Quintet, a group that had come to the Jazz Standard in Manhattan three times in recent years. His dire, brooding sound began somewhere between rhythm and blues and Coleman Hawkins, and after the early 1960's owed more and more to John Coltrane's harmonies, phrasing and experiments with modalism.
Born in Houston, Mr. Land moved with his family to San Diego when he was 5. He began playing saxophone at 16 after hearing Hawkins's recording of ''Body and Soul.'' After high school Mr. Land worked in a band led by a local bass player, Ralph Houston, who also helped him join the musicians' union. Then he was in the trumpeter Froebel Brigham's band at the Creole Palace, a jazz club. He made his first recording at 21 as part of Brigham's band. He toured briefly with the rhythm-and-blues bandleaders (and brothers) Jimmy and Joe Liggins and then in 1954 moved to Los Angeles.
The trumpeter Clifford Brown heard Mr. Land in a jam session at the home music studio of the saxophonist Eric Dolphy, and Mr. Land was abruptly hired into the Brown-Roach band, which already had a wide reputation, replacing the saxophonist Teddy Edwards. For almost two years, based in Philadelphia, far from his wife and young son, he contributed to some of the finest records of the hard-bop era, including ''Study in Brown.'' He was becoming famous in jazz circles.
But in late 1955, when he learned that his grandmother was dying in Los Angeles, he quit and moved back there to be with his family. He was an archetypal example of a musician whose career might have taken off if he had stayed in the New York area.
Back on the West Coast, he joined the bassist Curtis Counce's group, recording with Counce and making his own records for Contemporary, including ''The Fox,'' from 1959, a lesser-known classic with a number of tunes written by the pianist Elmo Hope and Mr. Land's own tricky, blisteringly fast title number.
He recorded for Concord in the 1970's, and in the 80's he joined the Timeless All-Stars sextet. He returned to performing on his own more frequently and widely in the late 1990's. He had taught jazz at the University of California at Los Angeles for the past three and a half years. His final record, from last year, was ''The Promised Land,'' on Audiophonic.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, the jazz pianist Harold Land Jr. of Los Angeles, and a grandson.