All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Les McCann

Les McCann Les McCann

Already established on the soul jazz scene of the 1960s, Les McCann became an international jazz superstar with the release of “Swiss Movement,” recorded at the 1968 Montreux Jazz Festival with the late Eddie Harris. The album generated a multi-million selling hit single, “Compared To What,” and placed McCann and Harris in the forefront of the jazz market. There was a lot more to Les McCann than that show in Switzerland,both before and after. As a musician, he moved comfortably from one jazz style to the next, demonstrating impressive chops from bop to fusion, from vocals to virtually any kind of keyboard he puts his hands to.

Born in 1935 in Lexington, Kentucky, Les is a self-taught musician. In the early fifties, he left the South and joined the Navy. While stationed in California, he took every opportunity to visit San Francisco's jazz clubs, where he first experienced Miles Davis and his music. His first major influence though, was pianist Erroll Garner, who shared the same exuberance and bursting vocalizations. After his discharge from the military, McCann moved to Los Angeles and formed a trio, Les McCann Ltd., which became a favorite on the Sun Strip in the late fifties.

Les McCann was recommended by Miles Davis to play with Cannonball Adderly, but turned it down in order to form his own band. In 1960, McCann was signed to the L.A.-based Pacific Jazz, where he became the label's top-selling artist, debuting with “Plays the Truth.” (1960) He also co-headed albums with label mates such as organist Richard “Groove” Holmes, saxman Ben Webster, The Jazz Crusaders and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra.

Read more

Tags

Radio
Building a Jazz Library
Interview
Album Review
Read more articles

Photos

Albums

Watch

Similar

Lou Donaldson Lou Donaldson
saxophone
Jimmy McGriff Jimmy McGriff
organ, Hammond B3
Eddie Harris Eddie Harris
saxophone, tenor
Bob James Bob James
piano
Donald Byrd Donald Byrd
trumpet
Richard "Groove" Holmes Richard "Groove" Holmes
organ, Hammond B3
Jack McDuff Jack McDuff
organ, Hammond B3
Gary Bartz Gary Bartz
saxophone, alto

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.