Les McCann & Eddie Harris (1969) Swiss Movement (LP) Atlantic 1537

Les McCann & Eddie Harris
Swiss Movement

Atlantic 1537
Produced by Nesuhi Ertegun & Joel Dorn
recorded June 1969
Rating:**** (Recommended)

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.

— winch

Les McCann & the Jazz Crusaders: Jazz Waltz (1963) LP

Les McCann 
& the Jazz Crusaders

Jazz Waltz

Pacific Jazz (81) 


Rating: ****(Recommended)
McCann teams up with the newly formed Jazz Crusaders for this set.  While the group provides a bigger sound than on some of McCann’s offerings, there’s an intimate small-combo feel to it.  The horn players get some room to show their stuff, but all the cuts are served up short order, all clocking in at under five minutes. McCann and Sample alternate between piano and organ, and the churning Hammond really helps fatten up the sound.  With the band cooking, the set sizzles.  Worthwhile grab for fans of soul jazz.
— winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

Les McCann: Spanish Onions (LP) 1964

Les McCann 
Spanish Onions
Pacific Jazz (ST-20097)


Rating: ****(Recommended)
Solid soul-jazz outing recorded live “after hours,” bass, drums, McCann on piano, the trio going through a variety of tempos and moods, the moody title track the centerpiece in my opinion (and it’s about food like so many soul jazz classics).  Other than a Cole Porter number, all originals by McCann.
— winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

Les McCann: Invitation to Openness (1972) LP

Les McCann
Invitation To Openness
Atlantic (SD 1603)
Produced: Joel Dorn
Released: 1972
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.
— winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)