Les McCann & Eddie Harris
Produced by Nesuhi Ertegun & Joel Dorn
recorded June 1969
Classic spontaneous combustion soul jazz from McCann/Harris (they’d never rehearsed or played together), the set opening with a definitive version of McCann’s signature tune “Compared to What?” (Gene McDaniels), the rest instrumental, cooking from the get-go, keeping it going from go to whoa, turning down the flame and getting a bit reflective on the cuts that close the sides.
Solid set from 1969, essential listen for fans.
Invitation To Openness
Atlantic (SD 1603)
Produced: Joel Dorn
Rating: **** (Recommended)
McCann’s definitive 1969 live set was a hard act to follow, but this date from the early 70s proved he still had a lot to say. While the popularity of 1969’s “Compared To What” probably had something to do with his focus on vocals for some of the material that followed, this set sticks with the instrumentals, offering “The Lovers” as the centerpiece of this meeting, the side-long cut completely improvisation, the rhythm digging deeper into the groove as the thing progresses, Detroit’s Yusef Lateef bringing in some sounds from around the globe as he alternates between instruments, the guitarists also getting room to wind their licks into the groove. The thing builds up to a near frenzy and then settles down just to build up again and climax like a multiple orgasm. Get together with your lady or just turn out the lights, light up a number and lay back and enjoy this thing.
Side two sounds slightly anti-climatic after that opening, but flip her over and sink your needle into those grooves as well. Some might not dig the electric funky playfulness of “Poo Pye McGoochie,” but others will find that it fits just fine, like going out to play after getting some loving from your woman (or your man). Backed with a crackerjack team of musicians, McCann delivers the goods.
Besides Lateef on sax, oboe, flute, plum blossom & bells, the set features two guitarists (Cornell Dupree & David Spinozza), two bassists (Bill Salter & Jimmy Rowser), and five percussionists (Bernard Purdie, Al Mouzon, Donald Dean, Buck Clarke, & Ralph McDonald). McCann plays piano and Moog.
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)