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Les McCann

Les McCann reached the peak of his career at the 1969 Montreux Jazz Festival, recording "Compared to What" and "Cold Duck Time" for Atlantic (Swiss Movement) with Eddie Harris and Benny Bailey. Although he has done some worthwhile work since then, much of it has been anticlimactic.

McCann first gained some fame in 1956 when he won a talent contest in the Navy as a singer that resulted in an appearance on television on The Ed Sullivan Show. After being discharged, he formed a trio in Los Angeles. McCann turned down an invitation to join the Cannonball Adderley Quintet so he could work on his own music. He signed a contract with Pacific Jazz and in 1960 gained some fame with his albums Les McCann Plays the Truth and The Shout. His soulful, funk style on piano was influential and McCann's singing was largely secondary until the mid-'60s. He recorded many albums for Pacific Jazz during 1960-1964, mostly with his trio but also featuring Ben Webster, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Blue Mitchell, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Pass, the Jazz Crusaders, and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra.

McCann switched to Limelight during 1965-1967 and then signed with Atlantic in 1968. After the success of Swiss Movement, McCann emphasized his singing at the expense of his playing and he began to utilize electric keyboards, notably on 1972's Layers. His recordings became less interesting to traditional jazz fans from that point on, and after his Atlantic contract ran out in 1976, McCann appeared on records much less often. However, he stayed popular and a 1994 reunion tour with Eddie Harris was quite successful. A mid-'90s stroke put him out of action for a time and weakened his keyboard playing (his band began carrying an additional keyboardist) but Les McCann returned to a more active schedule during 1996 and was still a powerful singer. His comeback was solidified by 2002's Pump It Up, a guest-heavy celebration of funk and jazz released on ESC Records. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
full bio

Comments

dgoens753
I WAS TURNED OUT WITH THE SWISS MOVMENT BACK IN 70s talked about soulful funky.to this day I stood have my LP Ian 61yrs old an I like to crank my music. An think about what I was doin back in them days Cleveland ohio
I have always said the 3 of the best live albums of all time were recorded in1969: Swiss Movement with Les McCann & Eddie Harris, John Mayall's The Turning Point and Woodstock. If you don't have those three, you are not a 1960's music aficionado.
Just love it. Roberta also played in our neighborhood venue on Captial Hill called Mr. Henry's.
I have been a fan of Les McCann since the 60ty. invitation to openness.
layers,and come on and get that church. would like hear if possible.
tedled
to Lyda5, yes Roberta did both....the club you are thinking of was probably the Bohemian Caverns, where Les Mc played many times when in DCin the '60's and early '70's....als o Blues Alley some years later.
blueheron7
If this reviewer thinks Les McCann"s career peaked at Montreaux in 1968. He doesn't know what he is talking about. He obviously didn't see him perform with the Crusaders in the Berkeley amphitheater in the '70s, or see him rock the jazz club scene for decades. I saw him perform in a jazz club last year. He's still got it!
Les MCCann Along with many other has had a profound impact om my approach in playing Jazz Piano.
lyda5
I was just wondering of Roberta Flack ever sang and played the piano in Wash DC back in 69-70 with Les McCann, she was at jazz type nightclub. can't remember the name of it but quite popular night spot back then.
Compared to What as the featured song on the Swiss Movement Album , recorded live @ the Montreux Jazz fesitval introduced me to less Mccann and Eddie Harris.The piece is fast moving with a progressive beat that provides ample time for the piano , sax, and the animated ,soulful, "real" lyrics of the exciting ,challenging ,confontatio n a l times - 1968-69..
fantastic
looking for the album Tall dark and handsome, particular song, "so your love finally ran out for me" by Les McCann

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