Monday, December 27, 2010

More or Les....One of my favorites...

Well Christmas is on its way out again and I've been remiss with inactivity. I may find a holiday oriented post to make before the New Year celebrations close the door on the season, but I'm more excited about the album at hand, Les McCann's, "More or Les McCann". When I was enjoying my four years at UCONN in Storrs, CT I had among my collection of 8-track jazz and blues, this very same recording. It was not something that was a natural draw to me at first. It's generally quite mainstream stuff, along the lines of Ramsey Lewis' piano trio work with the upbeat pop appeal liberally applied. But somewhere around 1975-76 I was prolifically dumped by my long standing girlfriend and woe and behold, I became pretty obsessed with all things sentimental, which not so surprisingly seemed to coincide with the beginnings of my now much longer standing friendship with all things beer. So during this pathetic period of mine I became unusually captivated by the likes of Bozz Scaggs & Elton John of the pop world (e.g. "Harbor Lights", "Your Song", etc.) and all the typical sentiment that kids my age tuned into on our radio dials in those days. But with my growing passion for jazz and blues I thankfully made friends with this beautiful recording by Les McCann. The entire album is what you might say is fairly typical McCann. Tremendously soulful piano with a perfectly tuned in battery. I always love the comfortable, natural feel of Les' playing. Relatively simple perhaps, but so effective, so satisfyingly easy and joyful. But this particular album caught me most with the few vocal offerings that fit my mood so well during that emotional time that brought with it so many personal changes. Three songs, "Since I Fell For You", "Please Send Me Someone To Love" and "It's Way Past Supper Time" are the three vocal tracks here and each really showcases McCann's indisputable talent and artistic splendor. The songs are of some renown, but they are as good as any other version I've heard in each case. Probably my own personal favorite rendition of each. Again, Les is supremely relaxed and delivers the song like someone just singing to himself. You feel like your just eavesdropping from the shadows and lucky enough to catch the feelings as they ease out of his fingers and mouth. The other element to this album is that there is an addition of orchestrations from Gerald Wilson. Now this album seems to be fairly obscure. Not impossible to find on vinyl, as I recently did, but information on this recording is a bit scant. The gatefold cover itself doesn't offer a reference date of any kind, nor does the vinyl or labels. I always find that to be odd. AllMusic puts the release date at 1967 but other references have it as 1969. It sounds a bit more like 1969 to me but then I also think this is essentially a remix of earlier recordings which had been reconstructed with the addition of Mr. Wilson's orchestra. I know that two of the vocals here were also on the album "Les McCann Sings" from 1961, although I'm not sure it offers the same exact Les tracks. So from the vague liner notes it seems that this album is just dressing up a collection of previous releases, and for the most part I like the results even though I'm not sure I've ever heard the leaner originals. Arguably there are spots where the "dressing" may be a little more than is necessary, but generally it comes off tastefully and serves to accentuate the feeling that Les captures on his piano and in his vocals. The album is a continuous flow of mellow and sweet that ebbs to groovin' and swinging soul. So after so many years of searching for this painfully overdue replacement for my long since unraveled 8-track version from the 70's, I'm so glad to be able to once again listen to this timeless recording and share it here since it is nowhere to be found except OOP vinyl (trust me...). My vinyl has a couple of minor imperfections you will probably detect, but it's otherwise a decent copy to enjoy until someone chooses to re-release this little gem. Les McCann may be an acquired taste for some, but I feel my jazz sensibilities pretty much grew up with his sure handed mentoring. I think he is a much more important figure to both jazz and soul music than most people give him credit for. When it comes to Les, I will always take more...


Les McCann - More or Les McCann (1969)

World Pacific Jazz / ST-20166

Someone Stole My Chitlins
Since I Fell For You
Falling In Love With Love

Please Send Me Someone To Love
It's Way Past Supper Time
Narobi Nights

There are no credits listed on the album cover except a reference to bassist Herbie Lewis on the track, "Django". Otherwise, the only credit is to Gerald Wilson for orchestral arrangements and conducting.


Anonymous said...

can't see the free (slow) download button anymore at rapidshare - do you have to but a download now?

Anonymous said...

..sorry, i mean "buy"...

Durge & The Oldies said...

Sorry you had problems Anon. I just tried it without logging into my Rapidshare account and the "slow" button worked fine. So please try it again, it seems to be working as it should.

WOODY said...

Thanks for this fine album,
very much appreciated!

bhowani said...

Thank you beaucoup