This intriguing, previously unreleased set captures Les McCann's working trio with bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Frank Severino live at the Village Vanguard on July 16, 1967. It's an exceptionally well recorded fifty-minute set that mixes four group originals with two Cole Porter tunes and two unfortunate pop staples of McCann's ("Goin' Out of My Head," "Sunny"). McCann was at a career high at this point, as his artistically satisfying Limelight years were ending and his successful eight-year run on Atlantic was about to begin (the same group recorded Live at Bohemian Caverns for Limelight the following month).
The trio is McCann's ideal unit and he shows off all his best tricks here. And anyone who's ever seen the big man live knows how much drama he can pack into a song (something very few of today's re-boppers and modal copycats even dare consider). He's got showmanship to spare. The only grudge is McCann's off-mike growling as he gets going. But that's a minor quibble when you hear what his fingers are doing.
Highlights are plenty: the moody "Love For Sale," the rollicking gospel cocktail of Porter's "I Am In Love," Leroy Vinnegar's blues, "Doin' That Thing" (chock full of McCann quotes from "Wade in the Water," "Caravan" and even "Goin Out of my Head"), a beautiful "Sunny" and McCann's jaunty "Blues." Even "Goin' Out Of My Head" is taken a bit more seriously by McCann here than on the Bohemian Caverns date.
Despite the disc's odd title and bizarre cover art (McCann with Hubert Humphrey!), this is a terrific set, at a bargain price, very much worth exploring.
Personnel: Les McCann: piano; Frank Severino: drums; Leroy Vinnegar: bass.
< b>Tracks:Love For Sale; I Can Dig It; Doin' that Thing; I Am In Love; Goin' Out Of my head; Sunny; Blues; The Shampoo.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.