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4.0 out of 5 stars Les McCann - The Truth, 9 Feb 2012
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This review is from: The Truth (Audio CD)
Les McCann upset a lot of jazz critics in the sixties as he moved away from jazz and into soul, funk, vocals, and other such fripperies (their words, not mine). Although he did continue to make the occasional good jazz record in between all the other stuff, they were few and far between. None of which is a problem with this disc, because it comes from the very start of his career, before he began to upset all the purists.
In fact, it's a very good straight ahead jazz record, totally lacking in any sort of extraneous nonsense. Tracks 8-15 are by a trio with Leroy Vinnegar and Ron Jefferson, his working band of the time, and look to be a straight re-issue of 'The Truth', which I think was his first UK disc. The earlier tracks are by the same trio plus Teddy Edwards on tenor, and I don't remember them ever being issued before.
The quartet tracks have Edwards playing beautifully. He is relaxed and swinging, favours the top half of his horn more than most, and is wholly in control. On ballads, such as 'Fools Rush In', his lines are attractive, and on faster numbers like 'Undecided' the whole band swings you into ill health. Had he ever relocated to New York he would surely have been a big name. McCann plays swinging bluesy piano, a bit like a slightly less glossy Oscar Peterson, Vinnegar was probably the best bassist on the West Coast at the time and shows it, and Jefferson, although never the most light fingered of drummers, makes sure things swing at all times, and is fairly discreet.
The trio is more of the same, with a selection of attractive tunes, including standards, a moving tribute to Carl Perkins , and a number of catchy blues and gospel originals, like 'Vacushna', 'A Little 3/4 for God & Co' and 'Fish This Week'. At that time soul jazz was all the thing and McCann, like Bobby Timmons, was one of the more attractive composers and players in the idiom.
All in all an attractive bluesy swinging session with the added bonus of the ineffable Mr. Edwards.
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The Truth
The Truth by Les McCann (Audio CD - 2010)
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