Home > Les McCann, 2004

Les McCann is a pianist, composer and singer best known for a signature sound infused with soul. Born in Kentucky in 1935, McCann moved to Los Angeles in the 50’s after his discharge from the Navy and formed a trio which became a favorite at nightclubs on the Sunset Strip. He signed a recording contract with Pacific Jazz in 1960 and over the next four years recorded with his trio and also in collaboration with such jazz greats as Ben Webster, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Pass, the Jazz Crusaders, and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra. McCann switched labels to Limelight in 1965 and then signed with Atlantic in 1968.

During the late 60’s, McCann garnered international attention with the single “Compared to What?”, which sold platinum, and his exciting collaboration with partner and saxophone player Eddie Harris at the 1968 Montreux Jazz Festival, which resulted in the best selling album, the classic “Swiss Movement.” During the 70’s, McCann pioneered the use of electric piano, clarinet, and synthesizer. He is also known for discovering singer Roberta Flack and championing the careers of singers Mahalia Jackson and Nancy Wilson. McCann’s reunion tour with Eddie Harris in 1994 was a great success, and though he suffered a stroke in the mid-1990’s which impaired his keyboard skills to a certain extent, his voice remained powerful and his performance schedule was back on track by 1996. His comeback was clinched with “Pump it Up” in 2002, a funk and jazz recording featuring many guest artists.