Album Reviews

Les McCann – Invitation to Openness

Artist:     Les McCann

Album:     Invitation to Openness

Label:     Omnivore

Release Date:     03/03/2015

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This treasured work from 1972 is appearing on CD for the first time. Of course, most listeners are familiar with jazz pianist and vocalist Les McCann from his 1969 hit, “Compared to What.” I wore out my Swiss Movement vinyl version. This solo release followed that captivating record, and admittedly my first impression of it was a funkier, less structured version of the kind of fusion jazz authored by Weather Report. The album featured just three tracks, including the improvisational epic, “The Lovers,” which clocks in at 26 minutes.

Now, hearing this re-mastered version, I have more appreciation for the grooves and the contributions from stellar musicians like multi reedman Yusef Lateef, guitarists Cornell Dupree and David Spinozza, percussionists Bernard Purdie, Alphonse Mouzon, Buck Clarke and Ralph McDonald, and McCann’s own rhythm section of Donald Dean on drums and Jimmy Rowser on bass. The best advice I can offer is that of McCann’s, “Listen to this music with openness and without thought or images. I turn the lights down and the music up and I find joy in the different places it takes me.”

The release accompanies the separate issuance of McCann’s book of photography, carrying the same name. His photography is a stunning collection of black and white portraits of jazz and soul greats taken between 1960 and 1980.

The album’s liner notes contain statements from legendary producer, the late Joel Dorn, as well as Dean and Rowser. The obligatory bonus track is a live version of “Compared to What,” recorded in Germany in 1975 and featuring Buddy Guy. This music is not dated however, it is timeless and refreshing.

– Jim Hynes

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