Harold Land emerged from the competitive West Coast scene in the mid-50s. He was born in Houston, Texas and grew up in San Diego, California, carving out his career from there. He moved to Los Angeles in 1954 and soon found himself scouted out by trumpeter Clifford Brown to join the quintet he co-led with Max Roach. This was one of the most important small groups of the era and was pivotal in the development of hard bop. From here Land moved to the Curtis Counce group and eventually to the Gerald Wilson Big Band. In between he recorded a number of albums as leader, including the exceptional “The Fox” on Hi-Fi Jazz.
In 1967 he recorded an LP with vibes man Bobby Hutcherson for Cadet, and soon the pair formed a working group. They released three albums for Blue Note under Hutcherson’s name and two for Mainstream in Land’s name. “Choma (Burn)”, the second of the Mainstream sets, has never been reissued before. It is an exceptional album with touches of modality, post-bop and funk all thrown together. Land and Hutcherson had a seemingly psychic understanding of each other’s playing, resulting in a masterful recording. Although this was their final record as co-leaders, Land appeared on two further mid-70s Blue Note sessions with Hutcherson and joined him in the Timeless All Stars in the 1980s and 90s.
By Dean Rudland