Harold Van Pelt

Harold Van Pelt



DATE OF BIRTH: April 5, 1930

DATE OF DEATH: May 12, 2016


INSTRUMENT: baritone sax


Born into a musical family, Harold Van Pelt began his career in the '40s. While a student at Arts High School in Newark, he picked up some gigs around town, something his teachers frowned upon. That led him to quit school and join the service. Soon he was a tenor saxophonist in the 753rd Army-Air Force Band at the Lockhorn Air Force Base in Columbus, OH. Another member of the band was Earl Van Dyke, who later gained fame as a session pianist for Motown. Also on the base at the same time was saxophonist John Gilmore, who was to become a featured performer in Sun Ra's Arkestra. When he left the service in 1950, Van Pelt came back to Newark briefly before moving to Detroit at the invitation of one of his old military band mates. For two years, he played with the leading names on the Detroit jazz circuit before returning to Newark. Back home, he switched to the baritone sax and went on the road with some of the major R&B groups of the day, ones that helped give birth to rock 'n roll. Among them were the bands of Annie Laurie, Stick McGee and Joe Morris. Later, Van Pelt played with many of the big bands in Newark, and he fronted his own groups as well. He is a gifted arranger and routinely comes to bookings with his own charts.    

NEWARK CLUBS: Lloyd's Manor, Key Club, Terrace Ballroom, Wideaway Ballroom, Club Harold, Nest Club, Four Leaf Deli, Kinney Club

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