Harold Land

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Harold Land
Harold Land at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay CA 1982
Background information
Born(1928-12-18)December 18, 1928
Houston, Texas, U.S.
DiedJuly 27, 2001(2001-07-27) (aged 72)
Los Angeles, U.S.
GenresJazz, Hard Bop, Post-Bop
Instrument(s)Tenor Saxophone
Years active1954-2001

Harold de Vance Land (December 18, 1928 – July 27, 2001)[1] was an American hard bop and post-bop tenor saxophonist. Land developed his hard bop playing with the Max Roach/Clifford Brown band into a personal, modern style, often rivalling Clifford Brown's instrumental ability with his own inventive and whimsical solos. His tone was strong and emotional, yet hinted at a certain introspective fragility.[2]


Land was born in Houston, Texas, United States and grew up in San Diego, California.[3] 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.[4] The Land family moved from San Diego 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.[3] From the 1970s onwards, his style showed the influence of John Coltrane.

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. The group consisted of Land on tenor, Cedar Walton on piano, Buster Williams on bass, Billy Higgins on drums, Curtis Fuller on trombone and Bobby Hutcherson on vibes. Land also toured with his own band during this time, often including his son, Harold Land Jr., on piano and usually featuring Bobby Hutcherson and Billy Higgins as well. 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.[4]

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 died in July 2001, from a stroke, at the age of 72.[1]

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."[5]

Playing style[edit]

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."[6]


As leader/co-leader[edit]

As a member[edit]

The Timeless All Stars

As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2001". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  2. ^ "Harold Land | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 251/2. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  4. ^ a b "Jazz Takes Root in Another Land : Harold Jr. Continues the Legacy of His Famous Sax-Playing Father - latimes". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2017-07-29.
  5. ^ "Bill Bruford". 4 July 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-07-04. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  6. ^ Ratliff, Ben (July 30, 2001). "Harold Land, 73, Saxophonist Who Made a Splash in the Bop Era". The New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  7. ^ "The Harold Land Quartet – Live At The Cellar 1958". Discogs. Retrieved 2023-04-18.
  8. ^ "Damisi, by Harold Land". Harold Land. Retrieved 2021-03-13.

External links[edit]