Les McCann & Eddie Harris
Recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland in June 1969
When Les McCann interpolates the melody of "Age of Aquarius" in the introduction to "Compared to What," one sits back and says, "Ah yes, 1969." But he more than pulls it off, leading into a rambunctious and utterly infectious rendition of the classic piece, replete with exhortations of "Sock it to me!" This piece, written by Gene McDaniels, has to be one of the masterpieces of jazz-pop and the album could be recommended for its inclusion alone. Happily, the remainder of this live set, recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland (originally released on Atlantic), follows a similarly joyful and funky path, even if the group never quite scales the same heights. Saxophonist Eddie Harris' "Cold Duck Time" is as down-home as its title, and McCann's wincingly named "The Generation Gap" is as relaxed and cool as a lakeside breeze. Harris brings a needed tinge of free playing to the band, erupting into the occasional impassioned snarl while never neglecting the soulful roots. Trumpeter Benny Bailey also deserves special mention, his every contribution sharp and to the point. Altogether a fine recording, providing a shining example of what could be achieved in the soul-jazz genre without giving in to slickness in the slightest.
All Music Guide
This memorable impromptu session arose at the 1969 Montreux festival when tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris and trumpeter Benny Bailey joined Les McCann's working trio. McCann's regular rhythm section of Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Donald Dean on drums provides rock-solid support for some strongly felt and entertaining music. Harris's light-toned but expressive horn shines on his own "Cold Duck Soup" and McCann's "Kathleen's Theme," while the whole band rocks on "You Got It in Your Soulness." McCann's elemental voice and piano gives new life to the soul classic "Compared to What," while the underrated Bailey, more frequently heard in mainstream jazz settings, brings a brassy soulfulness of his own to the proceedings.