Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
The Schmooze

El Judio Maravilloso on Stage With Grupo Fantasma

In the salsa world, they call him El Judio Maravilloso, the Amazing Jew. And when the legendary pianist Larry Harlow — born Lawrence Ira Kahn — joined the funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma on stage last night at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge, he delivered on his nickname.

It was a moment of generational fusion. Harlow, 71, produced more than 250 albums for Fania records, and recently won a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Grupo Fantasma consists of 10 young musicians, mostly Latinos from Texas, whose sound channels the salsa and cumbia styles popular in Harlow’s heyday.

Harlow played on “Juan Tenorio,” a tune about a man who confronts his wife’s lover, then reveals he has killed his cheating spouse. The same song featured a baritone saxophone solo from Josh Levy. With his polo shirt, cargo pants, and Cleveland Indians cap, Levy’s attire was incongruous with the polished look of his band mates. But there was no doubt that his low-register sound anchored the horn section that drives the band’s live energy.

Grupo Fantasma opened their set last night with “La Conozco Ella,” a sing-along about a guy who spots a beauty on the corner and swears he’s seen her before. For the next hour and change, the band cranked out songs, most of them from their latest album, “El Existential.”

The energy never flagged, with dueling guitars, conga breakdowns, and exuberant trombone solos from Mark “Speedy” Gonzales. At the start of “Calor,” lead vocalist and percussionist Jose Galeano announced: “The heat is on.” And in “Sacatelo Bailando” he urged the crowd to shake off a hard work week on the dance floor. It was only Tuesday, but plenty of people took his advice.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.