Les McCann – Invitation To Openness (1971)

FrontCover1Leslie Coleman McCann (born September 23, 1935) is an American jazz pianist and vocalist.

Winning a Navy singing contest led to an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. McCann’s main career began in the early 1960s when he recorded as a pianist with his trio for Pacific Jazz. In 1969, Atlantic released Swiss Movement, album recorded with saxophonist Eddie Harris and trumpeter Benny Bailey at that year’s Montreux Jazz Festival. The album contained the song “Compared to What”, and both the album and the single reached the Billboard pop charts. “Compared to What” criticized the Vietnam War. The song was written by Eugene McDaniels years earlier and recorded and released as a ballad by McCann in 1966 on his album Les McCann Plays the Hits. Roberta Flack’s version appeared as the opening track on her debut album First Take (1969).

After the success of Swiss Movement, McCann, primarily a piano player, emphasized his vocals. He became an innovator in soul jazz, merging jazz with funk, soul, and world rhythms. He was among the first jazz musicians to include electric piano, clavinet, and synthesizer in his music.

In 1971, he and Harris were part of a group of soul, R&B, and rock performers – including Wilson Pickett, the Staple Singers, Santana and Ike & Tina Turner – who flew to Accra, Ghana to perform a 14-hour concert for over 100,000 Ghanaians. The March 6 concert was recorded for the documentary film Soul to Soul. In 2004 the movie was released on DVD with an accompanying soundtrack album.

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McCann had a stroke in the mid-1990s but he returned to music in 2002 when Pump it Up was released. He has also exhibited his work as a painter and photographer.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Les McCann among hundreds of artists whose material was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

Invitation to Openness is an album by pianist Les McCann recorded in 1971 and released on the Atlantic label.(wikipedia)

On this recording, the 26-minute “The Lovers” is more illustrative, freer in its essence and translation of the predominant free love theme of the ’60s and ’70s. Every nuance of McCann’s stream of consciousness comes through loud and clear, as do the excellent solos by Yusef Lateef on a wide array of reeds, flutes, and percussion. David Spinozza’s electric guitar chops and Alphonse Mouzon’s drum and percussion feelings on McCann’s completely improvised composition are an auditory delight for fusion fans. McCann adds a couple of piano melody lines and a couple of basslines, but other than that this composition is freely improvised by the musicians.

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Two other compositions, “Beaux J. Poo Boo” and “Poo Pye McGoochie (And His Friends)” round out the set with both adding different sonorous characters and musical back stories.(by Paula Edelstein)

This is a beautiful record with gorgeous, shimmering synth lines from McCann ,and awesome reed textures from Yusef Lateef. Fans of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way will really like this recording as it has a nice relaxing ambient vibe with hypnotic drum lines from a host of percussionists and drummers including Alphonse Mouzon. Highly recommended! (by Gene Derreth)

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Personnel:
Jodie Christian (piano)
William “Buck” Clarke (drums, percussion)
Donald Dean (drums, percussion)
Cornell Dupree (guitar)
Corky Hale (harp)
Yusef Lateef (saxophone, oboe, flute, pneumatic flute, plum blossom, temple bells)
Les McCann (piano, synthesizer)
Ralph McDonald (percussion)
Alphonse Mouzon (drums, percussion)
Bernard Purdie (drums, percussion)
Jimmy Rowser (bass)
Bill Salter (bass)
David Spinozza (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. The Lovers 26.03
02. Beaux J. Poo Boo 13.07
03. Poo Pye McGoochie (and His Friends) 12.30

All compositions by Les McCann

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