Sunday, February 07, 2010
Jango Song Of The Day-Les McCann & Eddie Harris
Song:Compared To What
Album:Swiss Movement: Montreux 30th Anniversary Edition
This surprise hit version of the Gene McDaniels song Compared To What came out of an impromptu session at the 1969 Montreux Jazz Festival. I've talked about sax player Eddie Harris before and he was one of the biggest stars in jazz. But pianist Les McCann wasn't as well known and this would turn out to be his biggest success. Les McCann was born Sept. 23, 1935 in Lexington, KY. In 1960, he turned down an invitation to join Cannonball Adderley's band to record his own band for Pacific Jazz. He recorded many albums there and signed with Atlantic in 1968. Swiss Movement was McCann's second album on Atlantic. Of course Harris was already a big star at Atlantic. Other musicians were Benny Bailey on trumpet, Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Donald Dean on drums. The whole thing was impromptu and Harris and Bailey never had the opportunity to rehearse with McCann's trio. So it was a big shock when the Vietnam War protest song Compared To What became a hit and Swiss Movement topped the jazz charts. Though McCann is identified with the song, it was actually written by Gene McDaniels (A Hundred Pounds Of Clay) and first recorded by McCann protege Roberta Flack. This 30th anniversary edition from Rhino has a bonus track. McCann continued to record in more of an R & B vein and continues to tour today despite suffering a stroke in the 90s. And hee toured with Harris several times over the years. Here's Les McCann and Eddie Harris performing Compared To What in Germany 1988.