The death of salsa’s “second marvelous Jew,” Lewis Kahn, was reported on social media by the first musician to hold that title, Larry Harlow.
Kahn, a pioneer of salsa violin and trombonist who played with the Orquestra Harlow and recorded numerous albums with other members of the Fania All Stars, reportedly passed away in his sleep on Tuesday night (Feb. 19) at home in New York. He was 73 years old.
Kahn, who was born in Los Angeles, began playing violin as a child and took up trombone as a teen, when he joined his high school band. In his twenties, he became an integral part of the Latin music scene in New York. First playing in boogaloo bands, he was present for the birth of the sound that became known as salsa. Kahn’s many recordings on labels including Tico, RCA and Columbia, as well as Fania, include Dizzy Gillespie and Machito’s Afro Cuban Jazz Moods, Celia Cruz and Willie Colon’s Only They Could Have Made This Album, Ruben Blades’ Maestra Vida, Harlow’s salsa opera Hommy and Eddie Palmieri’s Justicia.
Tributes from the salsa community came quickly after the news; colleagues and fans invaribly described him as a humble man known for his gentle manner.
See the messages below.
My condolences go out to the family & loved ones of Lewis Kahn. An extremely talented trombonist and violinist in Latin music, he’ll always be remembered by his musical community. Lewis played on multiple albums of mine including Sueño, Superimposition & Justicia. God bless Lewis
— Eddie Palmieri (@EddiePalmieri) February 20, 2019
I have just received the Sad news that the Great Lewis Kahn died last night. Lewis was a an old soul who had definitely been here before. He was the kind of musician I could only dream of being. Above all he was a humble sweet man. God bless you Lewis Kahn.
— Willie Colón (@williecolon) February 20, 2019
Grace Mercy and Peace https://t.co/H77R7dGU16
— joe bataan (@JOE_BATAAN) February 20, 2019
I’m so sad to report that my dear friend of 45 years, legend, Lewis Kahn has passed away. I met Lewis even before I started playing alongside him with Larry Harlow’s band, as we recorded together… https://t.co/lyLOAMxF32
— Pete Nater (@PeteNaterMusic) February 20, 2019