Lewis Kahn: Zen and the Art of Trombone and Violin Playing



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June 14, 2008

Zen and the Art of Trombone and Violin Playing
Lewis Kahn

A conversation with John Child

Gifted trombonist and violinist Lewis Kahn has a dream CV, which includes membership in Orchestra Harlow, the Fania All Stars and the Tito Puente orchestra. During the last five decades he has clocked-up a prodigious quantity of recording sessions and live performances, including dates with Eddie Palmieri, Pupi Legarreta, Willie Colón, Mon Rivera, Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, Rubén Blades, Celia Cruz, Santiago Ceron, Charanga America, Héctor Lavoe, Charlie Palmieri, David Byrne, Marc Anthony, Pucho & his Latin Soul Brothers, Kirsty MacColl and many others. Association with stellar names often creates sizeable egos and a habit of name-dropping, but not in Lewis's case. He is reticent by nature, so it took some perseverance on John Child's part to jog his memory and encourage Lewis to speak about his career. However, the effort paid off and the resulting interview reveals a fascinating and deeply spiritual individual. The piece is followed by a selected discography of the albums on which Lewis has performed.

John Child (JIC): I know that the USA is a republic, but you must be a contender for the title of "King Latin Session Musician." Tell me about your family background and upbringing?

Lewis Kahn (LK): I was born in Los Angeles on July 1st, 1946. My father came from Austria. I don't know much about his years before he immigrated here but I recently heard that his father and/or grandfather were rabbis. My mother was born in Brooklyn, her father was a Russian Jew, and her mother had a multi-European heritage. Most of my musical background came from my mother, who played the piano, and as a child she would accompany her father, who played violin. I was told that friends and neighbours would come and join in the musical festivities. In my own time, growing up, these kinds of musical experiences would manifest during holiday events. My grandfather's violin got handed down to me.

JIC: So are you implying that it was your mother who taught you how to play violin, which you played at holiday festivities? If so, what type of music did you perform during holiday events?

LK: My family provided me with a violin teacher (at about age eight), and rented a small violin that was my size. Not being a Mozart, I did not flaunt my very modest skills at these celebratory events. But the mention of these events are only to give a general picture of the way music took a part in my childhood. Other musical family events that come to mind include TV shows watched together such as: violinist Florian Zabach, Liberace, Lawrence Welk, etc.

JIC: When and what were the circumstances behind you relocating to New York?

LK: My family moved to Brooklyn when I was three.

JIC: Why the choice of trombone as your principal instrument and which 'bone players inspired and inspire you?

LK: I had to choose a band instrument for the school band and, in the years that followed, met many mentors who encouraged my trombone playing.

In the beginning, my listening was limited to classical, Broadway and pop. Notable trombonists on the records at hand included: Herbie Harper, Milt Bernhardt, J. C. Higginbotham and Tommy Dorsey. As my experience grew, others caught my attention such as: Jack Teagarden, J. J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller, Frank Rosolino, Jimmy Cleveland, Jimmy Knepper, to name some. In the field of Latin, playing next to Barry Rogers and Jose Rodrigues was an invaluable schooling, and inspiration.

JIC: So at what stage of your school education did you get the opportunity to join the school band?

LK: The school music programme was from the fifth and sixth grades. After that, it continued in one form or another in junior high and high school. Extra-related musical activities included the Brooklyn All Borough Band and Dance Band (junior high), and the New York All City Orchestra

JIC: Was it apparent to you that you were destined to be a musician from an early age, or did you, or more likely your family, have other career plans?

LK: From junior high on, music was taking a predominance, though I had other interests, especially science.

JIC: Why and how were you attracted to Latin music?

LK: I had spent two years studying at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, New York), and then continued at the Juilliard School in New York City. During the time studying in New York, I received calls to do trombone work in Latin, soul, classical, etc. I noticed that the chief difference in playing each style lay in the rhythmic groove defined by the percussion and the articulation defined by the rest of the horn section. It was all too apparent that the complexities of the drums and percussion working together, in the most amazing, hypnotic, and spiritual otherworldly experience, made Latin music attractive. I think that even in those early years of my professional life I was privileged to witness the best of the best. Drum sounds of jam sessions in Catskill Mountain villages, emerged from their African roots, chants sung in West African dialects, provided one of my most profound musical experiences.

JIC: There is evidently a longstanding connection between the Jewish community and Latin music and dance in the USA. What observations would you like to make about this history from your experience?

LK: My last answer touched on the Afro-Caribbean Catskill community, but this question would look to the Jewish Catskills. Unfortunately, my direct experience is limited and what's left is, "I know Jews who like to dance and listen to Latin music." My more serious answer would point to the universal appeal that music has. Intellectual musings might point to North African similarities but I don't know. For real juicy Latin-Jewish links, ask Larry (Harlow).

JIC: Tell me about your earliest professional engagements?

LK: By the kindness of the departed trombonist, Steve Pulliam (one of Mon Rivera's trombonists), I worked with some boogaloo Latin bands. Plus there were soul music sessions (including Linda Jones, collected on Hypnotized: 20 Golden Classics '94 on Collectables Records) and Latin sessions including Mon. My first Latin experience was with Joe Mamo's Latin Bugaloo.

JIC: Latin and soul sessions suggest that you were involved in recording at that point, which would be the late '60s. Can you elaborate?

LK: The Linda Jones and other soul sessions were recorded at that time. To the best of my recollection some of the personnel included Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (drums) and Richard Tee (piano and keyboard).

JIC: Please share your memories of working with Mon Rivera in the 1960s?

LK: My lasting impressions of Mon's sessions were highly syncopated, fast moving, and pages of music that made me dizzy, and wondering how I was able to play it right. Steve Pulliam was one of the other trombonists (who hired me for Mon's and the soul sessions).

JIC: I've not heard of Joe Mamo's Latin Bugaloo. Tell me more?

LK: Joe Mammaleo was a New York City cop who moonlighted as a Latin bandleader. He played electric piano and vibes. His band was one of many on the scene that played ubiquitous boogaloo selections like "Summertime" (Gershwin) and "I'll Never Go Back to Georgia." Fun though…

JIC: I understand that you and Larry Harlow were at Brooklyn College together and played in the Brooklyn orchestra. Please tell me more?

LK: My first trombone teacher, Jack Nowinski, fits that description.

JIC: That's an answer, but possibly not to the question I asked! Can you shed a bit more light on this stage in your life and your meeting with Larry?

LK: I think I met Larry at a dance at the Manhattan Center. I was playing with a small band and he was one of the headliners. While we were on a break, Jack Hitchcock, a trombonist with Larry, introduced himself, and then introduced me to Larry. After that I started to do sub work with his band, playing with Jack Hitchcock or Mark Weinstein in the trombone section.

JIC: Larry says that he recruited you to Orchestra Harlow in 1967. Was your album debut with Orchestra Harlow, Me And My Monkey - "Mi Mono y Yo" (Fania, 1969), which has you pictured on the rear cover in kaftan and hippie regalia?

LK: Yes.

JIC: Did you play on Electric Harlow (Fania, 1970)?

LK: That, too.

JIC: I understand that you played trombone with Larry's rock band Ambergris, which he founded in 1969. Tell me more?

LK: It was an attempt to ride the wave of Blood Sweat & Tears, and was full of great talent, personality problems, egos, etc. I had to leave because the volume gave me a headache, but the band was short lived after that.

JIC: You sessioned on a couple of milestone albums by Eddie Palmieri, Justicia (Tico, 1969) and Superimposition (Tico, 1970), which also featured trombonist Jose Rodrigues, percussionist Manny Oquendo and singer Ismael Quintana from Eddie's seminal Conjunto La Perfecta. Please share your views about these projects?

LK: The closest thing to flying first class without a plane.

JIC: Did you perform live with Eddie Palmieri at this stage?

LK: Yes.

JIC: Do you recall anything about these gigs? Personnel, material performed, venues, etc?

LK: Eddie's band was like a steamroller, Eddie setting things up with his montuno and the rhythm section riding right along. Chocolate was a bird flying freely and lyrically within the momentum of the band's unstoppable groove. Jose Rodrigues was a powerhouse who laid down the moñas and mambos, and I was taking lessons.

JIC: On Harlow's Salsa (Fania, 1974), arguably his most important and successful album and regarded by some as a key album of the burgeoning '70s salsa boom featuring elements presaging the charanga revival of the latter half of the '70s, he persuaded you to dig out the violin to play on the tracks "La Cartera" and "El Paso de Encarnación." Tell me the story from your perspective?

LK: When I let slip that I played violin, Larry made me get it out of the closet. He gave me tapes of charanga bands to listen to and assimilate the style. The experience of playing the music on trombone added into the mix as well.

JIC: In a 2007 interview for Waxpoetics magazine, Larry said that at the time of the Salsa album, "Lewis Kahn was just starting to get the hang of Cuban violin playing, mixed with his European Gypsy style of playing." I have been known to use the expression "Stéphane Grappelli-esque" in relation to your soloing style. I would be interested to hear your comments about the influences on your violin playing?

LK: Pupi and Chombo were the ones to listen to. I also love Grappelli's playing. No doubt I borrowed from them.

JIC: One obvious thing I expected you to cite are the family musical festivities of your childhood. Do you think you assimilated any influences from these into your soloing style?

LK: I don't think so. We owned some gypsy violin band records that I enjoyed listening to, and Florian Zabach was a gypsy violinist. People comment about the shades of East European gypsy in my violin playing, but I'm not that conscious of it.

JIC: You say that Pupi Legarreta and Chombo Silva were the ones to listen to. Of course, in addition to working with Pupi in the Fania All Stars, you appeared with him on the albums Pupi y su Charanga (Vaya, 1975), Los Dos Mosqueteros - The Two Musketeers (Vaya, 1977) by Pupi and Johnny Pacheco and Las Tres Flautas (Fania, 1980) by Johnny, Pupi, José Fajardo and Javier Vázquez y su Charanga. Could you tell me more about these albums and Pupi's significance as a violinist?

LK: Both Pupi and Chombo's violin solos have jazz references in them, as well as melodic quotations from their mother country. If I took anything from them it was this strong sense of melody. Use of hemiola and other rhythmic techniques, adherence to the clave, etc. They presented a "how to" when it came to playing the violin in this style. On the sessions that you mentioned, Pupi would often turn to me and say, "Play it like this," and would demonstrate the phrasing, bowing, attack. I could not hope for a better teacher.

JIC: I must ask you about Orchestra Harlow's Live In Quad (Fania, 1974), on which you take outstanding violin solos on the cuts "Mayari" and "La Cartera." Any comments?

LK: That album was recorded live at Sing Sing Prison, before an appreciative and captive audience. Memories are sketchy, but the recording can verify that the band was on. If anything still stands out, it was the very time-consuming security procedure we had to endure getting in and out of the place.

JIC: El Jardinero Del Amor (Fania, 1976) is among my favourite Orchestra Harlow albums. In the tradition of the Salsa album, Larry injects a charanga flavour to the project on the Junior González composition "Se Cerro La Puerta," featuring a sublime violin solo duel between "El Segundo Judio Maravilloso" (The Second Marvellous Jew: Lewis Kahn) and Harry Max, and Orquesta Aragón classic "El Jardinero del Amor," including another captivating violin solo from "El Gran Lewis." Any remarks?

LK: I love those cuts. Swingin' and jubilant. Harry (who also played trumpet) played great and gave me a lot to bounce off from.

JIC: In the early '70s you became a Fania All Star and performed at the supergroup's historic Yankee Stadium concert on Friday, August 24, 1973, material from which was issued in the albums Latin-Soul-Rock (1974) and Live At Yankee Stadium Vol. 1 & Live At Yankee Stadium Vol. 2 (1975) and immortalised in the movie Salsa (1976). Please share your memories of this event?

LK: The huge crowd, wanting to hear a great show, helped to inspire the performance. I enjoyed myself!

JIC: The highpoint of 1974 for the Fania All Stars was the band's trip to Africa to perform in front of 80,000 fans at the Stadu du Hai, Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) as part of the entertainment before the Mohammed Ali / George Foreman heavyweight title fight, the legendary "Rumble In The Jungle." What are your recollections of this trip?

LK: I had unforgettable experiences walking around Kinshasa. The first shows were good performances but empty due to the fight's postponement, but at the last show, the general public was admitted free so that an audience could be filmed and edited into the mix.

JIC: In 1976 you performed with the Fania All Stars at London's Lyceum Ballroom, their only genuine UK appearance to date. Besides you, the line up included Johnny Pacheco, bandleader; Bobby Valentín, bass; Papo Lucca, piano; Ray Barretto, conga; Roberto Roena, bongo; Nicky Marrero, timbales; Curt Rano, Luis "Perico" Ortiz and Lew Soloff, trumpets; Barry Rogers and Willie Colón, trombones; Yomo Toro, tres guitar; Pupi Legarreta, violin; Celia Cruz, Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Miranda and Ismael Quintana, singers; with Stevie Winwood guesting on guitar. A gig at the MIDEM festival in Cannes, France, followed this. Was this your personal debut in the UK and what memories do you have of these gigs?

LK: Unfortunately, only fuzzy ones.

JIC: You were part of the Fania All Stars' Caravan '76, a tour that took in New York's Madison Square Garden, Chicago, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Japan, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The band played a total of five gigs in Japan (one in Yokohama, another in Osaka and three in Tokyo) and concert material was later issued in the album Live In Japan 1976 (Fania, 1986). What are recollections of the Japanese excursion?

LK: My favorite places were Kyoto. Kamakura, Nara, also Tokyo.

JIC: In a Latin NY report of the Fania All Stars' Caravan '76 tour in December 1976, you disclosed that you were a yogi and follower of Sri Chinmoy. In addition, a photo of the All Stars in front of a giant Buddha in Japan features you striking a particularly spiritual pose. Please share more about this aspect of your life, and is it a path you still follow?

LK: Yes. Simply, Creator and creation are One in an eternal hide and seek. Gradual realisation of this, in short glimpses, flashes, nurtured in the silence of meditation, or even simply by observing a beautiful sunset that seems to stop time…the experience of day-to-day events.

JIC: Your comment about "Creator and creation are One in an eternal hide and seek" strikes a chord with me. I was quite heavily into Eastern religion and philosophy in the '70s, and was particularly inspired by Alan Watts interpretation from numerous perspectives via his many books. Does your spiritual outlook inform your approach to musical performance?

LK: Yes. It is performance without expectation or attachment to the results. If one uses the term "God," then "God" is the musician and also the audience. To take it back a step, the musician is the instrument and Supreme Enjoyer uses the ears of the listeners.

JIC: I am not being facetious, but in other words, you are talking about "Zen and the Art of Trombone and Violin Playing." Earlier on you spoke about the spiritual otherworldly aspect of playing Latin music. I treasure those transcendent moments of collective soloing during a live performance, described as "chaos style" by the Venezuelan bandleader and arranger Andy Duran. Do these moments figure amongst your personal experiences of being one with the "Creator"?

LK: After an improvisatory playing experience, where the question arises, "What just happened?" or "Who played that?" or no question, just an expanding of consciousness, one might interpret that as something transcendent. On the other end, sometimes during a break, someone in the club will stop me to tell me, "…you are playing music of the heart…of the soul," and I think my guru is talking to me, but I'm playing a Latin gig.

JIC: Your session work for the Fania stable began in the early '70s, and your name appears on countless albums by the likes of Chivirico Dávila, Willie Colón, Mon Rivera, Markolino Dimond, Celia Cruz, Rubén Blades, Héctor Lavoe and many others? I would be interested in your observations about the Fania studio system, which some musicians compared to a factory production line?

LK: I never felt that way.

JIC: You were reunited with Mon Rivera on his collaboration with Willie Colón, There Goes The Neighborhood / Se Chavo El Vecindario (Vaya, 1975), and his final album Forever (Vaya, 1978). Do you have any stories about these sessions and did you gig with Mon on the back of the There Goes The Neighborhood album?

LK: This went to record and was not performed live. As for the recording session, I have no special recollections.

JIC: I am fascinated about the career and short life of Mark Dimond. You sessioned on his 1975 album Beethoven's V (Cotique) with Frankie Dante and Chivirico Dávila. Can you share your memories of him and this project?

LK: Even after revisiting the album, memory of the project is misty at best. I recall rehearsing with, and playing in small clubs with Markolino. I may be confusing things, but Artie Webb comes to mind. Mark was a very fine musician.

JIC: Did you play on the Fania All Stars album Live (Fania, 1978)?

LK: I was unaware of this recording, but according to information on the web, yes. Word has it that this material came from a Madison Square Garden concert and was recorded without permission, and released almost twenty years after by the rascals at Fania. I and a host of others would be hunting them down to get paid if possible. Other recordings in this category would be the Live In Africa (Fania, recorded 1974, released 1986) and Live In Japan 1976 albums.

JIC: Of your many Fania sessions, another performance that stands out is your ethereal violin solo on the track "Y Deja" from Willie and Rubén's 1981 Fania album Canciones del Solar de los Aburridos that prompted my reference to "Stéphane Grappelli-esque" in some liner notes.

LK: One of my favourites, inspired by the beautiful Brazilian rhythms throughout the tune. Comparisons to Stéphane are too kind.

JIC: You have indicated to me in the past that your experience of the Fania organisation was somewhat bittersweet. Are you prepared to elaborate?

LK: Low pay and no pay for services are two ways Fania showed disrespect to its contributing talent.

JIC: You sessioned on the second, third and fourth albums by Charanga America (Comiendose A Nueva York '80 and Charanga America '81 on Top Hits and Y Algo Mas '83 on Combo). Do you have any memories of these projects and did you gig with this principal New York charanga at the time?

LK: I'm aware of only the first mentioned. The others are probably compilation remakes. During the time the album was made, I was a working member of the band, with Eddie Drennon as the other violinist and Enrique Orengo, cellist.

JIC: Charanga America and Y Algo Mas weren't compilation remakes by the way. African-American violinist and arranger Eddie Drennon played on all of the Charanga America albums between 1978 and 1989. Eddie was a key part of the New York charanga movement. I would be interested to learn more about him and hear your view about his approach to playing?

LK: I would describe Eddie's playing as swinging, bluesy, syncopated, using frequent slides and drops as part of his signature.

JIC: Another prominent violinist who I would like to hear you talk about is Alfredo de la Fé. Please share?

LK: Alfredo's playing is aggressive, flashy and rhythmic, using sliding tremolo, hemiola, double stops (playing on two strings together), quotes from the motherland, as part of his signature vocabulary. Both of these talented violinists are a must listen for those who enjoy this music and want to experience the variety that's offered.

JIC: The first time I saw you performing live was with Charlie Palmieri and Jimmy Sabater's Combo Gigante at the Village Gate in 1986. You doubled on 'bone and violin, Dick "Taco" Mesa played sax and flute, Nicky Marrero was on timbales and Willie Torres guested on vocals. Any memories of working with this band?

LK: That was Charlie's last band before he died. It was an honour and pleasure to play with Charlie. His humanity as well as his musicianship put him on the top of my list of favourite people to work with. Taco was another great yet humble musician. I wish I knew what became of him. I see Jimmy and Nicky from time to time, but Victor Venegas (bassist) had passed some years ago.

JIC: In the Fania All Stars charanga oriented outing Viva La Charanga (Fania, 1986) you took a violin solo on "Vacila Con Tu Trago" sung by Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez. Do you have anything you want to share about this project?

LK: The album was recorded already, and I was called in to overdub a solo on that tune. I think it was a good solo.

JIC: So do I. You have also worked in the fields of jazz and rock fusion, for example, David Byrne's Rei Momo (Luka Bop / Sire, 1989) and Lionel Hampton's For The Love Of Music (MoJazz, 1995). Please tell me more about these projects and other activities outside Latin music?

LK: I played trombone on Dizzy Gillespie's Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods (Pablo, 1975), with Machito and his orchestra, arranged by Chico O'Farrill. It's a tour de force jazz suite featuring Dizzy, with fantastic big band writing by Chico.

David Byrne's Rei Momo was a fusion of pop, Latin American and mambo, with the collaboration of the best arrangers available in the genre. The arrangers would then contract the musicians for the sessions.

I played violin and trombone on Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers' How'm I Doin' (Cannonball Records, 2000) and The Hideout (Fantasy, 2004). Pucho's group is a mix of Latin, R&B, soul and jazz. He's always fun to work with and has a killin' band.

I featured on trombone and violin on Kirsty MacColl's Electric Landlady (EMI, 2005). Kirsty was a unique songwriter whose life ended in a tragic accident. The theme song to The Tracy Ullman Show was her creation.

Juan-Carlos Formell's Songs From A Little Blue House (BMG / Wicklow 1999) and Las Calles Del Paraiso (EMI Latin, 2002), on which I played trombone and violin. Both of these albums contained personal features that I like, also beautiful writing and performing by Juan-Carlos.

Also, there were a couple of records with Joel Kaye and his Neophonic Orchestra. Joel, an expatriate of the Stan Kenton Band, arranged for and led a huge big band a la Kenton, including four French horns and tuba.

As for the Lionel Hampton, it amounted to one tune on the album that gave lip service to the Latin jazz genre. Not recommended listening.

JIC: You won't recall, but I first briefly spoke to you way back in 1990 at a gig by Cruz Control (led by Sergio Rivera and Ray Cruz) on the Lower East Side. Please tell me more about this phase of your career?

LK: Tuesday nights playing with Cruz Control was a lot of fun, a lot of blowing practice and usually did not conflict with most of my gigs. I'm not recalling the time period of that, or the other bands I was working with.

JIC: Well, in addition to gigging with Cruz Control, you recorded with Junior González, Héctor Ramos "El Galan De La Salsa," Tito Nieves, Roberto Blades, Bobby Sanabria, Marc Anthony, Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez and Ray de la Paz between 1990 and 1993. Does this ring any bells?

LK: Yes. I'll start off mentioning Bobby Sanabria's project, ¡New York City Aché! Bobby Sanabria & Ascensión (Flying Fish, 1993), a two horn Latin jazz group that was a pleasure to record and perform live with. Marc Anthony's recordings had a couple of violin solos, as did Junior's recordings. The other stuff is straight ahead horn section playing.

JIC: You performed on Tito Puente's Tito Puente And His Concert Orchestra (Tico, 1973) and his Grammy nominated The Mambo King: 100th LP (RMM, 1991). Then in the mid-'90s you became a member of his band, appearing on albums such as Tito's Idea (Tropijazz, 1995), Special Delivery - Featuring Maynard Ferguson (Concord Picante 1996), Live At Birdland: Dancemania '99 (RMM, 1998), Mambo Birdland (RMM, 1999) and his final project Masterpiece / Obra Maestra: Tito Puente & Eddie Palmieri (RMM, 2000). Please tell me about your experience of the Puente organisation?

LK: Tito was a huge talent, and he surrounded himself with some of the best musicians I've played with. It was an education and an honor. Everyone knew what Tito wanted, so it resulted in tightly phrased but swinging results. I never took a chorus on any of Tito's recordings but, nonetheless, I enjoyed doing them. The recordings speak for themselves.

JIC: You were involved in the Fania All Stars' 30th anniversary tour, which resulted in the album and video Live In Puerto Rico (Fania, 1995), and subsequent CD Bravo (Jerry Masucci Music / Sony, 1997) and album / DVD releases of the band live in Cali, Colombia (Latina, 1997; FM, 2005). What are your memories of these and how did working with the All Stars in the 1990s compare with the heady days of the 1970s?

LK: It's more of the same in many ways: the same great band, the same great music, the same great crowd response, and I don't recall getting paid beyond the concert fee, for either the audio or video product. On the CD Bravo, the violin work is mine wherever you hear violin, although Alfredo de la Fé's name is most prominent. To be fair, it was his arrangement on Andy Montañez's song, and his original tracks on the other tune with violin, but all of the fiddle tracks had to be rerecorded.

JIC: More recently, you have recorded with Africando (Martina '03 on Sterns), the Latin Giants of Jazz (The Latin Giants Play The Music Of The Palladium - Tito Lives '04 on Gigante Records) and Larry Harlow's Latin Legends of Fania (40th Anniversary Live Concert '07 on Image Entertainment, dvd). Please tell me more about these projects and associated live work?

LK: The Africando recording was an extended dance version of a hit that was already released. There were no live gigs with that group. The Latin Giants recording resulted in a trip to San Sebastián, Spain, with Eddie Palmieri, and some concerts within the US. This group has too few gigs considering its superb quality, and too many of those too few gigs, without the trombone section. Band too big? We recently completed a successful week at Birdland, with the trombones!

JIC: I believe the Africando dance version was "Yaye Boy (remix)" included in the compilation African Salsa '98 on Earthworks, featuring a violin solo by you. You also perform on the Melcochita version of "Yaye Boy (En Español)" in Mascara Salsera Gold Stars: Gozando! (Asefra, 1996). In addition you are credited as a violinist on Africando's 2003 album Martina. Bring back any memories?

LK: Aside from the Africando remix with violin, I remember the 2003 Africando session, though your mention of it is the first I've heard of its release.

JIC: These days you have been gigging with Charanga Soleil in New York. Please tell me more about the band and the current state of the live Latin scene in New York?

LK: Charanga Soleil is based on music of some of the West African diaspora, and resulting pan continental musical interactions. It includes the music of Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, various countries of Africa and the US. The group has piano, bass, drums, conga, flute, violin and three singers. It's only a sprout, playing a few gigs here and there, but we did manage to play at the BAM Café, the Brooklyn Museum and the Lincoln Center Midsummer Night Swing series. Not bad.

JIC: My usual closing questions: Would you like to tell me what else you have been working on recently and what you have in the pipeline?

LK: I'm working on improving my instrumental skills, perhaps with the thought of a personal musical project. There are no details about that yet.

JIC: Is there anything else that you would like to add that we have not talked about?

LK: Thanks. I can't think of another thing.

JIC: What title would you choose for this interview? How about "Zen and the Art of Trombone and Violin Playing"?

LK: Fine.

Check out these related pieces in The Descarga Journal Archives:

Profile: Larry Harlow, Salsero Maravilloso
by David Carp, August 15, 1998
Veteran salsa bandleader, composer and Fania All Star Larry Harlow is profiled, in detail, in this candid interview. Here's one guy who can truly say "been there, done that." In this interview he talks frankly about his colourful past and offers his views of the current salsa scene. Continues

Discographic Profile: Tito Puente
by John Child, November 08, 2000
Here is a discographic profile of the legendary bandleader, composer and musician, Ernesto "Tito" Puente, who passed away on May 31, 2000. Continues

Selected Latin, jazz, R&B and rock/pop albums on which Lewis Kahn has performed:

• Linda Jones, Hypnotized: 20 Golden Classics (Collectables Records, issued c. 1968, reissued 1994)
• Orchestra Harlow, Me And My Monkey / "Mi Mono y Yo" (Fania, 1969)
• Eddie Palmieri, Justicia (Tico, 1969)
• Eddie Palmieri, Superimposition (Tico, 1970)
• Orchestra Harlow, Electric Harlow (Fania, 1970)
• Ambergris, Ambergris! (Paramount Records, 1970)
• Susan Carter, Wonderful Deeds and Adventures (Epic, 1970)
• Chivirico Dávila, Chivirico y su Nuevo Estilo (Cotique, 1971)
• Orchestra Harlow, Hommy - A Latin Opera (Fania, 1973)
• Tito Puente, Tito Puente And His Concert Orchestra (Tico, 1973)
• Roberto Torres, El Castigador (Mericana, 1973)
• Justo Betancourt, Justo Betancourt (Fania, 1974)
• Orchestra Harlow, Salsa (Fania, 1974)
• Ismael Quintana, Ismael Quintana (Vaya, 1974)
• Fania All Stars, Latin-Soul-Rock (Fania, 1974)
• Orchestra Harlow, Live In Quad (Fania, 1974)
• Seguida, Love Is Seguida (Fania, 1974)
• Orchestra Harlow, El Judio Maravilloso (Fania, 1975)
• Fania All Stars, Live At Yankee Stadium, Vol. 1 (Fania, 1975; Vol. 1 received a Grammy nomination)
• Fania All Stars, Live At Yankee Stadium, Vol. 2 (Fania, 1975; Vol. 1 received a Grammy nomination)
• Andy Harlow, El Campesino (Vaya, 1975)
• Pupi Legarreta, Pupi y su Charanga (Vaya, 1975)
• Willie Colón & Mon Rivera, There Goes The Neighborhood / Se Chavo El Vecindario (Vaya, 1975)
• Markolino Dimond & Frankie Dante, Beethoven's V (Cotique, 1975)
• Bronco, Bronco (Inca, 1975)
• Dizzy Gillespie & Machito, Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods (Pablo, 1975; nominated for a Grammy)
• Fania All Stars, Salsa soundtrack recording (Fania, 1976; nominated for a Grammy)
• Fania All Stars, Tribute to Tito Rodríguez (Fania, 1976)
• Orchestra Harlow & Ismael Miranda Con Mi Viejo Amigo (Fania, 1976)
• Orchestra Harlow, El Jardinero Del Amor (Fania, 1976)
• Andy Harlow, Latin Fever (Vaya, 1976)
• Willie Colón & Rubén Blades Metiendo Mano! (Fania, 1977)
• Willie Colón, El Baquiné de Angelitos Negros (Fania, 1977)
• Junior González, Tiempos Buenos / Good Times (Fania, 1977)
• Orchestra Harlow, La Raza Latina - A Salsa Suite (Fania, 1977; nominated for a Grammy)
• Chivirico Dávila, Brindando Alegria (Cotique, 1977)
• Ismael Quintana, Amor, Vida y Sentimiento / Love, Life And Feelings (Vaya, 1977)
• Pupi Legarreta & Johnny Pacheco, Los Dos Mosqueteros - The Two Musketeers (Vaya, 1977)
• Cheo Feliciano, Mi Tierra Y Yo (Vaya, 1977)
• Celia Cruz & Willie Colón, Only They Could Have Made This Album (Vaya, 1977)
• Orchestra Harlow, El Albino Divino (Fania, 1978)
• Mon Rivera, Forever (Vaya, 1978)
• Fania All Stars, Live (Fania, 1978)
• Andrea Brachfeld, Andrea (Latina Records, 1978)
• Orchestra Harlow, Rumbambola (Fania, 1979)
• Fausto Rey and Larry Harlow, La Responsabilidad (Fania, 1979)
• Johnny Zamot and Sociedad 76, Sociedad 76 (Fania, 1979)
• Justo Betancourt, Justo Betancourt (Fania, 1979)
• Fania All Stars, Habana Jam (Fania, 1979)
• Various Artists, Havana Jam (Columbia, 1979; double album including one track by the Fania All Stars)
• Fania All Stars, Crossover (Columbia, 1979; nominated for a Grammy)
• Camilo Azuquita, Llegó Y Dijo (Vaya, 1979)
• Santiago Ceron, Tumbando Puertas (Salsa International, 1980)
• Johnny Pacheco, Pupi Legarreta, José Fajardo and Javier Vázquez y su Charanga, Las Tres Flautas (Fania, 1980)
• Fania All Stars, Commitment (Fania, 1980)
• Orchestra Harlow, El Dulce Aroma Del Exito (Fania, 1980)
• Rubén Blades, Maestra Vida Primera Parte (Fania, 1980)
• Rubén Blades, Maestra Vida Segunda Parte (Fania, 1980)
• Willie Colón & Ismael Miranda, Doble Energia (Fania, 1980)
• Larry Harlow & Junior González, Our Latin Feeling / Nuestro Sentimiento Latino (Fania, 1980)
• Santiago Ceron, Navegando en Sabor (Salsa International, 1980)
• Charanga America, Comiendose A Nueva York (Top Hits, 1980)
• Rafael de Jesús, Lo Que Fué No Será (New Generation Records, 1981)
• Willie Colón, Fantasmas (Fania, 1981)
• Fania All Stars, Social Change (Fania, 1981)
• Larry Harlow, Así Soy Yo (Coco, 1981)
• Willie Colón & Rubén Blades, Canciones del Solar de Los Aburridos (Fania, 1981; nominated for a Grammy)
• Fania All Stars, Latin Connection (Fania, 1981)
• Celia Cruz & Willie Colón, Celia Y Willie (Vaya, 1981)
• Santiago Ceron, Canta si va' Cantar (Salsa International, 1981)
• Charanga America, Charanga America (Top Hits, 1981)
• Manolin González y su Orquesta Tambora, Eso Si Me Gusta A Mi (Ligon Records, 1981)
• Milly Quezada, No Te Puedo Tener (Algar, 1981)
• Johnny Pacheco & José Fajardo, Pacheco Y Fajardo (Fania, 1982)
• Larry Harlow, Yo Soy Latino (Fania, 1982)
• Willie Colón & Rubén Blades, The Last Fight (Fania, 1982)
• Willie Colón, Corazón Guerrero (Fania, 1982; nominated for a Grammy)
• Soledad Bravo with Willie Colón, Caribe (Sonografica / Fonart 1982)
• Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, Chocolate Dice (SAR, 1982)
• Carlos El Grande con José Mangual Jr. y su Orquesta, Sonero Con Clase (Velvet, 1982)
• Arabella, Sabor Y Raza (Phillips, 1982)
• Willie Colón, Vigilante (Fania, 1983)
• Ismael Miranda, The Master (Fania, 1983)
• La Charanga America, Y Algo Mas (Combo 1983)
• Sophy, En New York Con El Mejor (Velvet, 1983)
• Fania All Stars, Lo Que Pide La Gente (Fania, 1984)
• Willie Colón, Tiempo Pa' Matar (Fania, 1984)
• Willie Colón, Criollo (RCA International, 1984; nominated for a Grammy)
• Israel Kantor, La Verdad (Bacan Records, 1984)
• Larry Harlow, Señor Salsa (Tropical Budda, 1984)
• Héctor Lavoe, Revento (Fania, 1985)
• Alfredo Rodríguez, Monsieur Oh La La (Caimán, 1985)
• Roberto Blades, Tempestad (Fania, 1986)
• Fania All Stars, Viva La Charanga (Fania, 1986)
• Rudy Calzado, Rica Charanga (Caimán, 1986)
• Fania All Stars, Live In Africa (Fania, recorded 1974, released 1986)
• Fania All Stars, Live In Japan 1976 (Fania, 1986)
• Héctor Lavoe, Strikes Back (Fania, 1987)
• Celia Cruz & Willie Colón, The Winners (Vaya, 1987; nominated for a Grammy)
• Orquesta Broadway, Ahora Es Cuando Eh! (Mambo, 1987)
• Johnny & Ray, Salsa Con Clase (Polygram Latino, 1988)
• Roberto Blades, Haciendo Música (Fania, 1988)
• Fania All Stars, Bamboleo (Fania, 1988)
• Quique Rosas y su Orquesta G-7, Guenguere Records Presents Quique Rosas y su Orquesta G-7 (Guenguere Records, 1988)
• Joe Quijano, The World's Most Exciting Latin Orchestra & Review (Cesta, 1988)
• Yomo Toro, Funky Jibaro (Antilles, 1988)
• Roberto Blades, Viviendo (Fania, 1989)
• Camilo Azuquita, Amantes Secretos (TTH, 1989)
• Eddie Palmieri, Sueño (Intuition, 1989)
• Tito Nieves, Yo Quiero Cantar (RMM, 1989)
• Frankie Morales y La Banda, Sobresaliendo / Standing Out (El Abuelo Records, 1989)
• David Byrne, Rei Momo (Luka Bop / Sire, 1989)
• Charanga Ranchera, Charanga Ranchera (The Mayor, 1989)
• Yomo Toro, Gracias (Mango Records, 1989)
• Larry Harlow, Mi Tiempo Llegó / My Time Is Now (Cache, 1990)
• Junior González, Lo Pasado Pasado (EMI / Capitol, 1990)
• Héctor Ramos "El Galan De La Salsa", ¡Que Viva El Amor! (Salson Records, 1990)
• Tito Nieves, Déjame Vivir (RMM, 1991)
• Tito Puente, The Mambo King: 100th LP (RMM, 1991; nominated for a Grammy)
• Roberto Blades, Veo Siento Y Canto (Cache, 1991)
• Mecano, Aidalai (BMG, 1991)
• David Byrne, Uh-Oh (Luaka Bop / Sire, 1992)
• Bobby Sanabria, ¡New York City Aché! Bobby Sanabria & Ascensión (Flying Fish, 1993)
• Marc Anthony, Otra Nota (Soho Latino, 1993)
• Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez, Generaciones (Marcas Records, 1993)
• Héctor Lavoe & Van Lester, The Master & The Protege (Fania, 1993)
• Ray de la Paz, Preparate Bailador (RMM, 1993)
• Fania All Stars, Live In Puerto Rico (Fania, 1995)
• Marc Anthony, Todo A Su Tiempo (Soho Latino, 1995)
• Tito Puente, Tito's Idea (Tropijazz, 1995)
• Willie Colón & Rubén Blades, Tras La Tormenta (Sony Tropical, 1995; nominated for a Grammy)
• Ismael Miranda & Junior González, Cantar O No Cantar (Asefra, 1995)
• Lionel Hampton, For The Love Of Music (MoJazz, 1995)
• A.J. Diaz, Carnaval (Ventorillo Records, 1995; reissued as Blackjazz Afroantillano on A.J. Diaz Records in 2004)
• Yomo Toro, Las Manos De Oro (Xenophile / Green Linnet, 1995)
• Tito Puente, Special Delivery - Featuring Maynard Ferguson (Concord Picante 1996)
• Various Artists, Mascara Salsera Gold Stars: Gozando! (Asefra, 1996)
• Van Lester, My Way (A Mi Manera) (Vanlo Records, 1996)
• Fania All Stars, Bravo (Jerry Masucci Music / Sony, 1997)
• Fania All Stars, Viva Colombia: En Concierto 2-CD Set (Latina, 1997)
• Cruz Control, Cruz Control (Eva Records, 1997)
• Tito Puente, Live At Birdland: Dancemania '99 (RMM, 1998)
• Larry Harlow, Larry Harlow's Latin Legends Band 1998 (Jerry Masucci Music / Sony, 1998)
• Various Artists, African Salsa (Earthworks, 1998)
• Juan-Carlos Formell, Songs From A Little Blue House (BMG / Wicklow 1999)
• Tito Puente, Mambo Birdland (RMM, 1999)
• Junior González, Tribute To Héctor Lavoe (Ecuajey Records, 2000)
• Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri, Masterpiece / Obra Maestra: Tito Puente & Eddie Palmieri (RMM, 2000)
• Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers, How'm I Doin' (Cannonball Records, 2000)
• Junior González, Extra Inning (Ecuajey Records, 2001)
• Mel Martínez, Sin Miedo (Du Records, 2001)
• The Mambo All Stars Orchestra, 50 Years Of Mambo: Recorded Live At The Town Hall Theater, NYC (A Tribute To Pérez Prado) 2-CD Set (Mambo Maniacs, 2002)
• Juan-Carlos Formell, Las Calles Del Paraiso (EMI Latin, 2002)
• Africando, Martina (Sterns, 2003)
• The Latin Giants of Jazz, The Latin Giants Play The Music Of The Palladium - Tito Lives (Gigante Records, 2004)
• The Latin Giants Of Jazz, With Eddie Palmieri Live At The San Sebastián, Spain Jazz Festival 2003 - DVD (Gigante Records, 2004)
• Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers, The Hideout (Fantasy, 2004)
• Kirsty MacColl, Electric Landlady (EMI, 2005)
• Annette Aguilar & Stringbeans, No Cheap Dates (Stringbeans, 2005)
• Carlos Jiménez, Arriving (Martinete Music, 2005)
• Fania All Stars, Live In Cali, Colombia 2-DVD Set (FM, 2005)
• Joel Kaye / The New York Neophonic Orchestra, New Horizons, Volume 2 (Tantara Productions, 2005)
• Larry Harlow's Latin Legends of Fania, 40th Anniversary Live Concert (Image Entertainment, 2007)
• Larry Harlow's Latin Legends of Fania, on dvd, 40th Anniversary Live Concert (Image Entertainment, 2007)
• Charansalsa, Para Bailar Y Gozar! (Muziq, 2008)

© Descarga.com and John Child. John Child produces and selects the contents of the totallyradio show Aracataca. He is an editor and journalist for the Descarga.com Latin music website, and a contributor to the MusicWeb Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Penguin and Guinness Encyclopedias of Popular Music, and has prepared compilations for the Union Square and Nascente labels.

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