Larry Harlow, salsa music pianist/bandleader and Fania All-Star passes into ancestry.

Aurora Flores-Hostos
10 min readAug 20, 2021

Facing the music: going home.

A founding member of the Fania All-Stars’ supergroup of bad-boy bandleaders, co-producer of the salsa music cult film classic “Our Latin Thing,” storied producer of hundreds of hit recordings and gold albums, and a fierce activist who successfully campaigned the National Academy of Recorded Arts and Sciences (NARAS) to designate a separate Grammy Award category for Latin music in 1976, pianist Larry Harlow nee Lawrence Ira Kahn died at Calvary Hospital in New York at 82 years old on August 20, 2021. He is survived by his son Myles Kahn and his grandchildren Aaron and Sasha Kahn; his brother Andre Kahn; his daughter Haiby D. Aparicio, and his wife Maria del Carmen Kahn.

He marked his territory with style, panache, and innovation. Larry Harlow, el Judio Maravilloso was a marvel in modernizing Latin music while sticking to the roots. He helped assemble a crew that reflected the color, ethnic and racial mix of New York City. They expressed a hip blend of rejuvenated and fused Cuban and Caribbean music rooted in African soil, developed, and influenced in the Antilles, and made famous in New York City.

Together, they traveled the world as the Fania All-Stars, were greeted like the “juvi” rock stars of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo via New York; they indulged in orgies, drugs, and excess the envy of many rockers like Winwood, Stills, and Clapton who attempted to hang with these rebels. Nevertheless, their music was a “happening” where Andy Warhol would escape to peek backstage and admire the hot virility of Latino musicians, sweating, gyrating, dancing, and playing to a packed Madison Square Garden.

Extreme and edgy, stretching boundaries and breaking barriers of resistance to outsiders, Larry Harlow not only survived a niche industry like Latin music, he marked his territory on a foundation of innovation without compromising quality. Harlow reliably led a tight, well-rehearsed orchestra: in tune, in pitch, and harmonized, producing classics still fresh and vibrant today.

Larry formed Orchestra Harlow in 1964 in New York. As his reputation climbed, he got signed to a new label that same year — Fania Records, the Motown of Latin

Aurora Flores-Hostos

Writer, communications specialist, entertainment & salsa savant, news junkie, and Boricua woman of the world.