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Les McCann

Born in 1935 in Lexington, Kentucky, Les is a self-taught musician (other than the four piano lessons he took as a youth from a nice old lady who lived in the neighborhood). In the early fifties, he left the South and joined the Navy. While stationed in California, he took every opportunity to visit San Francisco’s jazz clubs, where he first experienced Miles Davis and his music. His first major influence though, was pianist Erroll Garner, who shared the same exuberance and bursting vocalizations. After his discharge from the military, McCann moved to Los Angeles and formed a trio, Les McCann Ltd., which became a favorite on the Sun Strip in the late fifties.

Always fueled by his renegade spirit, Les McCann was recommended by Miles Davis to play with Cannonball Adderly, but turned it down in order to form his own band. In 1960, McCann was signed to the L.A.-based Pacific Jazz label owned by producer Nick Venet, who recognized Les signature soul groove style that mothered an entire movement of back-to-the-roots jazz. McCann became the label’s top-selling artist, debuting with Plays the Truth (1960). He also co-headed albums with legendary labelmates such as organist Richard “Groove” Holmes, saxman Ben Webster, The Jazz Crusaders and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra.

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