Harlan Leonard

Picture of Harlan Leonard

Harlan Leonard was a clarinetist and bandleader whose career spanned from the early 1920's and lasted into the mid 1940's.  His bands didn't achieve huge national success, but still featured some great tunes. The music he released later in his career are great examples of the transition between swing and bebop. 

Leonard was born in Kansas City in 1905. He joined Bennie Moten's orchestra in 1923, where he led the reed section. In 1931, he left Moten's band and formed the Kansas City Skyrockets, which had some limited success in the Kansas City area.  

Leonard eventually retooled his sound a bit and in 1939 he formed Harlan Leonard and His Rockets.  The band featured a young Myra Taylor and soon became a top Kansas City regional band and toured nationally.

Listen to Harlen Leonard and His Rockets perform "Rock and Ride"

The band broke up during the Second World War, and sadly, Leonard had permanently left the music scene by 1945.

Interesting side note:  Rumor has it that Charlie Parker played in Leonard's band for five weeks, but he was fired by Harlan for lack of discipline.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

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