studied with Georges Enesco in Paris and went on to establish a career for
himself that spanned six decades.
One of his
earliest recordings dates way back to 1940, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Musical Offering, BWV 1079, on which
he played second violin. He
would be playing second fiddle to no one soon. In 1944, he graduated to first
violin as a member of the American String Quartet in a concert at Phillips
Academy’s George Washington Hall in Andover, Massachusetts.
He was also
featured on WYNC Radio on 12th August 1944 in a victory concert
at the New York Public Library and 7th July 1945 as a member of
the City Amateur Symphony in a concert at Central Park. On 7th September 1945, he
was credited with performing Richard Arnell’s
“Violin Concerto, Op. 9”, of which a pair of sound discs are
recordings from around the same period of time include a concert with the
National Orchestral Association on 22nd April 1946, this time
including the aforementioned Richard Arnell
concerto, as well as the music of Stanley Bate, Gordon Jacob, Henry
Purcell, and William Walton.
Another recording from 18th December 1946 includes works
by Frederic Chopin, Walter Eiger, and Henri Wieniawski.
January 1950, he performed in concert with the NOA in a program that
included compositions of Franz Joseph Haydn, George Kleinsinger,
Henry Purcell, Igor Stravinsky, and Henri Vieuxtemps.
In 1963, he
formed The Kohon String Quartet. Its line-up included Harold, along
with Raymond Kunicki, Kay Schweitzer and Bernard Zaslov. One
of their first recordings was an LP of clarinet quintets of Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Carl Maria von Weber. In 1967, a new edition of the
quartet tackled Arnold Schoenberg’s “Quartet No. 3, Op.
30”. This version of the
quartet included Harold, along with three new members: Eugenie Dengel,
David Moore, and Andrew Svilokos.
Aaron Shapinsky supplanted Harold. Perhaps it was because Harold was
about to change tacks and embark on a career as a session musician. In 1968, he helped ring in the
Yuletide on Snowfall: The Tony Bennett Christmas Album. Tony used him again 1970’s Something.
In 1971, he
was in the recording studio with Freddie Hubbard, laying down tracks for
1972’s First Light. Other albums on which Harold
appeared in 1972 included a pair of Hank Crawford offerings, Help Me Make it through the Night
and We Got a Good Thing Going,
and Jackie & Roy’s Time and
Love. In 1973, he recorded Jacaranda with Luis Bonfa, Deodato 2 with
Blues with Esther Phillips; the same year, he appeared on at least four
new releases: Don Sebesky’s Giant
Box, Sonny Stitt’s Mr. Bojangles, Stanley Turrentine’s Don’t
Mess With Mister T., and Grover Washington Jr.’s
two-volume Soul Box.
Things were no
less busy in 1974, with recordings of Grover’s Mister Magic, Milt Jackson’s Olinga, and Freddie
Hubbard’s Polar AC. Again, store shelves were lined with
more recordings featuring Harold:
Stanley Clarke’s self-titled album, Bob James’ simply
titled One and Two, and Don McLean’s Homeless Brother. Harold also spent part of 1974 and
1975 recording Upchurch/Tennyson
with Tennyson Stephens and Phil Upchurch. Around the same time, The Best of Paul Desmond was done
and dusted, featuring recordings that spanned 1972-1975.
continued to be in demand in 1975, appearing on Good King Bad by George Benson, I Hear A Symphony by Hank Crawford, The Chicago Theme by Hubert Laws, a pair of Esther Phillips
albums, For All We Know and What a Difference a Day Makes, The Rape of El Morro by Don Sebesky, Circle
of Love by Sister Sledge, and Feels
so Good by Grover Washington, Jr.
Oh, and he also found time to record House of the Rising Sun with Idris
In 1976, he
performed on the following albums:
End of a Rainbow by Patti
Austin, Caliente! by Gato Barbieri, Three by Bob James, Romeo and Juliet by Hubert Laws, Shoogie Wanna Boogie
by David Matthews, Rhythms of the
World by Van McCoy, The Mean
Machine and Red Beans by
Jimmy McGriff, Jaco Pastorius’s
eponymous solo debut, and Esther Phillips’ Capricorn Princess.
He also recorded material that would eventually wind up on the
Stanley Turrentine albums, The Man with the Sad Face and Stanley Turrentine with Strings.
In 1977, he
appeared on Chet Baker’s You
Can’t Go Home Again, Galdston &
Thom’s American Gypsies,
Eric Gale’s Ginseng Woman, Meco’s Music
Inspired by Star Wars and other Galactic Funk, Art Webb’s Mr. Flute, and Lenny White’s Big City. In the same year, he was back in the
recording studio with Bob James for the laconically titled Heads.
In 1978, he
played violin on George Benson’s In
Your Eyes, Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s Boogie-Woogie
String Along for Real, Dave Valentin’s Legends, and the soundtrack of The Wiz. Again, he reunited with Bob James in
the studio, recording tracks that would eventually appear on Touchdown.
As if he
wasn’t busy enough, Harold was also a member of the New York
Philharmonic Orchestra between 1974 and 1979.
In 1979, he
appeared on eclectic triad of albums, B. Baker Chocolate Co.’s
self-titled affair, Carly Simon’s Spy, and Frank Sinatra’s boxed
set, Trilogy. The Harold Kohon
Ensemble is credited on the Willie Colon-Ismael
Miranda collaboration, Doble Energia, released in 1980. Other releases featuring Harold from
the same year include Spyro Gyra’s
and Chasing the Sun and the
soundtrack of Fame. He was also in the studio with McCoy
Tyner recording 13th House.
In 1982, he
performed with Change on Sharing Your
Love, Willie Colon on Corazon
Guerrero, Enchantment on Enchanted
Lady, Julio Gutierrez on Viva
America Latina, and Spyro Gyra
on Incognito. Harold Kolon’s
ensemble is again credited on the Willie Colon-Hector Lavoe
album, Vigilante, released in
1983. The same year saw Harold
rejoin Ismael Miranda on his album, The Master, and perform with Aretha
Franklin on Get It Right. In 1987, he appeared on the Michael
Bolton album, The Hunger. He was also pressed into service for
the soundtrack of 1988’s School
In the 1990s,
CD recordings of The Kohon String Quartet began
to materialize, including American
String Quartets 1900-1950, The
Early String Quartet in the U.S.A., Ionisation – Music of Varese, Penderecki and Ligeti,
and Weber: Quintet in B flat; Concerto for
Clarinet No. 1. His last
recording, believe it or not, appears to be the Backstreet Boys’ 1997
album, Backstreet’s Back.
myriad opportunities to hear this versatile musician on CD, however,
including The Best of Meco, The
Essential Jaco Pastorius,
and Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of America’s Music.
Van McCoy recordings
The Shuffle (Van McCoy)
That’s the Joint (Richard Harris/Van McCoy)
Frank Sinatra recordings
That's What God Looks Like To Me (Stan Irvin/Lan
49233 (XNY2101S) (US 45)
Theme from "New York, New York" (Fred Ebb/John Kander)
RPS49233 (XNY 2103 S) (US 45)