Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

218

Les McCann / The Mitchell-Ruff Trio: 20 Special Fingers

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
The twenty fingers in the title for this double reissue CD come from two exciting piano trios of the 1960s. Both Les McCann and Dwike Mitchell offer blues-based, gospel influenced piano storytelling on their Atlantic albums Much Les and The Catbird Seat, respectively. McCann was at the peak of his career then, still using an acoustic piano and always infusing a groove into his work. Mitchell and Ruff started out at about the same time as McCann: the mid-‘50s. Bassist Willie Ruff and pianist Dwike Mitchell left Lionel Hampton’s band early on to perform mainstream jazz as a duo; Ruff also plays the French horn (not on this album). With over a dozen albums and celebrated tours that include Russia and China, the duo held to acoustic mainstream fare. McCann, on the other hand, later expanded into territory that emphasized his singing in an electronic environment, leaning more toward R&B pop music and farther away from mainstream jazz.

Recorded with strings on July 22-24, 1968 in Atlantic’s New York studios, Les McCann’s project reflects cool acoustic piano jazz with a captivating beat. The music, remaining enjoyable and tasteful throughout, features excellent acoustic trio interplay from drums, bass, and McCann’s piano. Unlike the synth strings we are faced with in today’s market, the leader’s backup string section offers a rewarding and irreplaceable timbre.

Recorded July 21, 1961 before a congenial audience at the Playback Club in New Haven, Connecticut, The Catbird Seat presents an inspired piano trio and wholesome improvisation. Unfortunately, the club’s piano was rather sour that night, affecting pitch and tone quality. It’s one of the major factors that led artists such as Les McCann to adopt the electronic keyboard for good and to stop relying on club managers to keep their instruments in good shape.

Track Listingfor Much Les : Doin’ That Thing; With These Hands; Burnin’ Coal; Benjamin; Love For Sale; Roberta.

Collective Personnelfor Much Les : Les McCann- piano, vocal on "With These Hands"; Leroy Vinnegar- bass; Donald Dean- drums; Willie Bobo- timbales; Victor Pantoja, congas; Theodore Israel, Warren Laffredo, Richard Elias, Winston Collymore, Emanuel Green, Noel DaCosta- violin; Selwart Clarke- viola, concertmaster; Harvey Shapiro, Kermit Moore, Ron Carter- cello; William Fischer- string section director & arranger.

Track Listingfor The Catbird Seat : The Catbird Seat; Street of Dreams; So In Love; Con Alma; Gypsy in my Soul; I’ll Remember April.

Personnelfor The Catbird Seat : Dwike Mitchell- piano; Willie Ruff- bass; Charlie Smith- drums.


Title: 20 Special Fingers | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Intakt Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Glow of Benares CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Magic Circle CD/LP/Track Review Magic Circle
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 12, 2017
Read A Gathering Foretold CD/LP/Track Review A Gathering Foretold
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Swinging In The Holidays CD/LP/Track Review Swinging In The Holidays
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Two" CD/LP/Track Review Two
by Joe Gatto
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" CD/LP/Track Review Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 8, 2017
Read "Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959" CD/LP/Track Review Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 7, 2017
Read "Autumn Tales" CD/LP/Track Review Autumn Tales
by Chris Mosey
Published: June 20, 2017
Read "Ullr" CD/LP/Track Review Ullr
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "Let's Groove: The Music of Earth Wind & Fire" CD/LP/Track Review Let's Groove: The Music of Earth Wind & Fire
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 1, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!