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Harlan Leonard

Harlan Leonard was an American jazz bandleader and clarinetist from Kansas City, Missouri.

Leonard was born in Kansas City in 1905. A professional musician from the age of 17, he joined Benny Moten's orchestra in 1923, where he led the reed section until 1931. In 1931 he and Thamon Hayes formed the Kansas City Skyrockets, which included trumpeters Ed Lewis and James Ross, trombonist Vic Dickenson, and pianist Jesse Stone. After disputes with the Chicago local of the American Federation of Musicians the band broke up.

In 1939 Leonard formed Harlan Leonard and his Rockets, which featured a young Myra Taylor. This band quickly became a leading band in Kansas City and toured nationally. Charlie Parker played in this band for five weeks, but he was fired by Leonard for lack of discipline. The band featured arrangements by its piano player Tadd Dameron that bore suggestions of the transition between swing and bebop. The band broke up during the Second World War, and Leonard left professional music. He worked in banking and for the Internal Revenue Service and died in Los Angeles in 1983

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February 01, 2020

Harlan Leonard: 1940

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