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Land, born in Houston and raised in San Diego, moved to Los Angeles in
the early '50s. In 1954, he joined the famed Clifford Brown/Max
Roach Quintet, with which he toured the United States and recorded
several albums for EmArcy (all of which are available as reissue CDs).
After two years with the ensemble, Land felt the need to be closer to
his family, which was in Los Angeles, and so he returned and has
resided there ever since.
He soon began to establish himself as one of the most singular and
powerful of jazzmen, making albums with bassists Red Mitchell
and Curtis Counce and then, in 1958, making his 12'' LP debut
(he had recorded four selections in 1949 that were released by Savoy).
Harold in the Land of Jazz was issued on Contemporary Records,
and was followed a year later by The Fox, on HiFi Jazz
(available as a Contemporary Records reissue), which many consider his
best early recording. He also began performing with Gerald Wilson's
orchestra, and with pianists Hampton Hawes and Carl Perkins,
becoming an essential cog in the wheel of Los Angeles jazz.
Nonetheless, the saxophonist didn't really get much exposure outside
LA until he formed a quintet with vibist Bobby Hutcherson in
the late '60s. The band recorded for Blue Note and toured the US and
In the late '70s and '80s, Land joined the Timeless All-Stars,
which also included Higgins, Hutcherson, Cedar Walton
(piano), and Curtis Fuller (trombone). In and around
performances with the Timeless band, Land fronted fine quintets that
featured trumpeters Blue Mitchell (their Mapenzi, on
Concord Jazz, is a classic) and Oscar Brashear (documented on
Xocia's Dance on Muse). Land remains one of the most impressive
and deep improvisers in jazz. As is said in the Penguin Encyclopedia
of Popular Music, "Land is a fine musician who has not received the
fame he deserves."