Larry Porter was born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA in 1951 and started playing the piano at age 6, later studying at Cleveland Music Settlement School.
He attended University of Rochester with classes at Eastman School of Music, 1969-1971 and Berklee School of Music, Boston, 1971-1972. He taught piano ensembles at the latter 1972-1973. Founded the group Children At Play with Tom van der Geld in Boston in 1971.
He went to Germany in 1973, and played with Bobby Jones, Sal Nistico, Leszek Zadlo, Volker Kriegel, Kai Winding, Mel Lewis, Gunter Lenz, and Bobby Stern. In 1976, he journeyed through Asia, studied music in Afghanistan and India. He learned the rebab, a short-necked lute with 18 strings, in Kabul with Ustad Mohammed Omar, the sarod in New Delhi, both plucked string instruments. In 1976, he went to study at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra School in New Delhi. He lived in New York 1977-80, working as pianist in the jazz scene, as accompanist for Merce Cunningham and other dancers, and as rebab and sarod player in the Indian music scene. He was a founding member of the Kathak Ensemble with dancer Janaki Patrik and tabla player Paul Leake.
He returned to Germany in 1981, played with Frank St. Peter, Airto Moreira and Thad Jones. Founded quartet with Allan Praskin. He lived in Spain 1983-84, and recorded his first quartet record. He returned to Germany in 1985. From 1986-88, he did extensive touring with Chet Baker, including the New Morning in Paris and European festivals. Also, he worked with Hannibal Marvin Peterson, Heinz Sauer, Conexion Latina, Benny Bailey, Don Menza, Al Cohn, and Leo Wright. In 1988, he did a tour and radio production with his own quintet featuring two sax players, Sal Nistico and Allan Praskin. From 1988-92, he was a member of the Art Farmer Quintet. From 1989-91, he played with the Harvey Wainapel Quartet. 1989 saw the premiere of his String Quartet.
In 1990, he won a prize in a competition for jazz-chorus compositions in Cologne for his work "Verganglichkeit" for mixed chorus and jazz piano trio on a poem by Hermann Hesse. He also formed a duo with Swiss harpsichord player Rudi Lutz, a fusion of jazz and baroque improvisation. The year also found him working with singers Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy and Jay Clayton. In 1991, he composed a one-hour work "Moksha" with choreography by Janaki Patrik for Indian dance, voice, piano, bass and tabla. The piece was a synthesis of jazz and western elements with Kathak dance and premiered in New York. He also accompanied Jeanne Carroll, blues and jazz singer from Chicago. From 1991-92, he played with the Archie Shepp Quartet and did concerts with the Marty Cook-Monty Waters Quintet.
He was awarded the annual music prize by the City of Munich in 1992. In 1993, he toured with singer Rachel Gould. In June 1994, he moved back to New York. He worked mostly in local clubs and was very active as a rebab player in the Indian and Afghan music scenes. He moved to Berlin shortly before the turn of the century. His current groups are the Larry Porter Trio and The Magical Rebab of Larry Porter.
Porter plays traditional Afghan music on the rebab, an instrument particularly characteristic of this music culture and has developed a unique style in which he combines folk music with elements of classical improvisation. Larry's repertoire consists of traditional Afghan folk songs and Hindi film tunes as well as Pakistani ghazals, classical pieces, and original compositions.
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