Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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McCANN, Les

(b 23 September 1935, Lexington KY) Pianist, singer. Accompanied Gene McDaniels '59, formed trio and mined R&B/funk groove. He made albums on Pacific Jazz '59-64, began singing '61: Les McCann Sings included Ben Webster, George Freeman on guitar, Richard 'Groove' Holmes on some instrumental tracks, big band with Harold Land, Charles Lloyd, arranged and conducted Gerald Wilson on others, vocal tracks with trio; The Gospel Truth and Soul Hit '63 included Joe Pass and Paul Chambers on some tracks; Jazz Waltz '63 included members of the Crusaders. He switched to Limelight '64-7: 'Plays The Hits' albums '66 included covers of Ike and Tina Turner, Donovan, McDaniels ('Compared To What'), 'Bang! Bang!' boogaloo hit, Plas Johnson in the band on some tracks.

He had his greatest success with ten albums on Atlantic '68-76: Much Les '68 reached the Billboard top 200 LPs early '69; Swiss Movement '69 (live at Montreux, trio with bassist Leroy Vinnegar and Donald Dean on drums became a quintet with guests Eddie Harris and Benny Bailey, a top 30 LP included single hit with McDaniels's 'Compared To What' (CD on Rhino included an additional track; it was also on video from Rhino); Second Movement '71 with Harris, Invitation To Openness '72, Talk To The People '72, Another Beginning '75, Hustle To Survive '75 all charted. Quartet Live At Montreux (two-disc set) '72 included Roland Kirk on two tracks and another version of 'What'. Les McCann The Man '78 on A&M included a big band with strings; The Longer You Wait '83 was on Jam. Two-CD anthology Relationships was on Rhino; later albums included On The Soul Side with Harris, Lou Rawls etc and Listen Up! with Billy Preston, George Duke, Ernie Watts etc, both on MusicMasters.