Harold Land Day

February 18 1928 – July 27, 2001

A tribute to the hard bop tenor-saxophonist

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Tenor-saxophonist Harold Land was born on February 18, 1928 in Houston, Texas.

Land grew up in San Diego where he began playing tenor-sax when he was 16.

He worked locally, made his recording debut with Jimmy Liggins’ Drops Of Joy in 1947, and led a boppish session of his own for Savoy in 1949.

However Land’s career really got going in 1954 when he joined the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet, staying with the group until late 1955 when some family problems resulted in him returning to Los Angeles.

Land worked with the Curtis Counce Quintet during 1955-58, recorded with Elmo Hope, Hampton Hawes, and Wes Montgomery, and led two excellent albums of his own during 1958-59.

During that era, Land had a smooth sound and a swinging style that fit perfectly into hard bop; he worked with Thelonious Monk in 1960, led more albums of his own, was a member of the Gerald Wilson Orchestra throughout the 1960s, and recorded with Gerald Wiggins, Shorty Rogers, Carmell Jones, and Red Mitchell.

In the 60s, Land’s tone became harder and darker as he was influenced by John Coltrane and modernized his playing.

Land co-led a post-bop group with Bobby Hutcherson starting in 1967, worked with Blue Mitchell, was a member in the 1980s of the Timeless All Stars, and was an important part of the Los Angeles jazz scene for 45 years, making his final recording in 2000.

Here is Harold Land in prime form with the rhythm section of the Timeless All Stars in 1986 playing one of his favorite songs, “Invitation.”


Harold Land, tenor sax
Cedar Walton, piano
Buster Williams, bass
Billy Higgins, drums

-Scott Yanow


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