Articles

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RADIO

Free Association - Vol. 2 with Michael Blake

Read "Free Association - Vol. 2 with Michael Blake" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu

Free Association is a series of collaborative mixtapes curated by Mondo Jazz in association with musicians and selectors of various origins. Free Association mixtapes develop as a conversation. The first selector sends a tune cherry-picked to suit, and ideally surprise, the second selector who then, in turn, returns the favor. An hour or so into this exchange, after unexpected turns and joyful revelations, the two look back at the results of this game of ...

Funk Jazz: '60s-'70s

Read "Funk Jazz: '60s-'70s" reviewed by Douglas Payne

Somewhere between the soul-jazz of the early sixties (often called “funk" in its day) and the disco of the mid-seventies, funk jazz was born. Rock was already crossing over into jazz. And it just made sense that rock would inject soul jazz with a greater sense of urgency and a stronger feel for the groove. Funk had that thing that made soul and any other kinds of dance music what it was--a deep, true conviction to getting you ...

INTERVIEW

Les McCann: Never Say No Again

Read "Les McCann: Never Say No Again" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

"Be who you are and not who you ain't. Because when you are who you ain't, you're not who you are." Keyboardist, vocalist, bandleader, songwriter and photographer Les McCann really talks like this. About his music, about musicians, about his career--about everything. I learned this during the following interview, scheduled to discuss Omnivore Records' March 2015 reissue of McCann's improvisational landmark Invitation to Openness, generally out of print since its original 1972 Atlantic Records' release; this reissue was ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Les McCann: Invitation to Openness

Read "Invitation to Openness" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

It is a simple matter of acid-base stoichiometry like that learned in any quantitative chemical analysis or medicinal chemistry course. If one treats the acid element of Parliament Funkadelic's Maggot Brain (Westbound, 1971) with the sweet bass of Leroy Vinnegar, then infuse as with juniper with gin, with honey and morphine: Les McCann's monumental Invitation to Openness would result. Ornette Coleman may have detonated a nuclear music device with Free Jazz; A Collective Improvisation (Atlantic, 1961), but it was McCann ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Les McCann: Invitation to Openness

Read "Invitation to Openness" reviewed by Germein Linares

Les McCann is an interesting figure in jazz. After winning a talent contest on the Ed Sullivan Show in '56, McCann turned down an opportunity to join Cannonball Adderley's group, deciding instead to form his own jazz trio in Los Angeles. Playing a popular blend of hard bop and soul jazz, he signed with Pacific Jazz in '60, produced several enjoyable albums, and continued to develop and define the sound he wanted. That sound, a restless brew of jazz, funk, ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Les McCann: Pump It Up

Read "Pump It Up" reviewed by Craig W. Hurst

The venerable jazz pianist and vocalist Les McCann finds himself a master of funk on Pump It Up. With a “tight as a fist” rhythm section of bass, drums, guitar and Hammond B-3 organ, McCann’s band has a groove funkier than the law allows. Crisp drumming with hammering backbeats, plus chunky bass and organ figures underscore McCann’s vocals that at times more closely resemble a rap recitation than singing. Honking saxophone solos and harmonious background vocals that comment on McCann’s ...

ALBUM REVIEW

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

Read "20 Special Fingers" reviewed by Jim Santella

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 ...


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