Les McCann, an influential American jazz pianist and vocalist, was born on September 23, 1935, in Lexington, Kentucky. He left a lasting impact on the world of soul jazz with his unique innovations. Sadly, McCann passed away on December 29, 2023.
Having taught himself music, McCann ventured into the Navy in the 1950s. Later, he relocated to Los Angeles and established his own trio, known as Les McCann Ltd.
His talent earned him a contract with the Pacific Jazz label, and his fame skyrocketed after a remarkable performance at the 1969 Montreux Jazz Festival alongside saxophonist Eddie Harris.
Among his noteworthy compositions is “Compared to What,” a protest anthem directed at President Nixon. McCann’s musical style seamlessly blended elements of church and swing, capturing the essence of the era.
His contribution to music reflects a perfect fusion of soulful melodies and rhythmic swing. Les McCann’s legacy endures, marking a significant chapter in the history of jazz.
Who Is Les McCann Wife? Was Les McCann Married
Les McCann, the renowned musician, was once married to a woman named Charlotte. Interestingly, Charlotte was older than Les. Unfortunately, she passed away in the 1980s.
There is no available information about any other marriages or spouses in Les McCann’s life.
Get to Know Les McCann
Leslie Coleman McCann, born on September 23, 1935, in Lexington, Kentucky, stood out as a groundbreaking American jazz pianist and vocalist.
His influence in the realm of soul jazz is notably highlighted by the resonance of his 1969 protest anthem, “Compared to What,” widely embraced in the hip hop genre.
Growing up in a musical household in Lexington, McCann’s family background included three sisters actively engaged in church choir singing. The household ambiance, shaped by his jazz-loving father and opera-humming mother, laid the foundation for his musical inclination.
McCann’s early engagement with instruments like the tuba and drums led him to self-learn the piano from the age of six. His educational journey continued at Los Angeles City College, and at 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in San Diego.
McCann’s career gained momentum during his Navy stint, marked by a singing triumph that propelled him onto The Ed Sullivan Show. Following his military service, he relocated to California, forming his own trio and opting against joining Cannonball Adderley’s band to pursue his musical path.
The trio’s debut at the Purple Onion club in 1959 marked the inception of a promising journey. The early ’60s witnessed McCann’s prime, recording with his trio for Pacific Jazz. A pivotal moment arrived in 1969 with the release of “Swiss Movement,” featuring the impactful “Compared to What.”
This protest piece, critiquing the Vietnam War, found success on the Billboard charts. McCann’s transition to prioritize vocals solidified his status as a soul jazz innovator, seamlessly blending jazz with funk, soul, and global rhythms.
In 1971, McCann, in collaboration with Eddie Harris, played a significant role in a historic concert in Accra, Ghana, documented in the film “Soul to Soul.”
Despite a mid-’90s stroke, McCann made a triumphant return in 2002 with “Pump it Up.” Beyond music, his talents extended to painting and photography.
Leslie Coleman McCann bid farewell at the age of 88 on December 29, 2023, succumbing to pneumonia in a Los Angeles hospital.
His musical legacy endures, with his recordings resonating widely in hip hop, embraced by artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Dr. Dre, and Nas, among others.
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