LES MCCANN – Invitation to Openness

Album: Invitation to Openness

Artist: Les McCann

Label: Omnivore Recordings

Release Date: March 03, 2015

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With one foot in jazz and the other in R&B, keyboardist Les McCann made his name with his million-selling cover of Eugene McDaniels’ “Compared to What,” an unlikely hit from #Swiss Movement#, his 1969 live album with Eddie Harris. Invitation of Openness, however, emphasizes his jazz roots.

Originally released in 1972, the record puts nearly all its eggs in a basket of improvisation, putting the spotlight on the interaction between McCann, his road band and guests like woodwinds master Yusef Lateef, guitarists Cornell Dupree and David Spinozza and drummer Bernard Purdie. “Beaux J. Poo Boo,” recorded once before as the title track to McCann’s 1961 LP, and the half-hour long “The Lovers” eschew any attempts at song form and just wander straight into outer space, with the rhythm section rolling and the guitarists and Lateef bobbing and weaving around McCann’s acid-dipped electric piano. “Poo Pye McGoochie (and his friends)” begins as a ballad before evolving into almost second-line funk, as McCann punctuates his rippling piano lines with some stabbing Moog licks. This edition adds a live take of “Compared to What” from 1975 for accessibility’s sake, but truly, the record’s warm space jazz is plenty absorbing on its own.

DOWNLOAD: “The Lovers,” “Poo Pye McGoochie”

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