Jazz Performer Les McCann To Be Honored By Living Legends Foundation

Les McCann004-01 now a

posted by Robert J. Carmack

Los Angeles,Calf._Soul Jazz singer and pianist  Les McCann is on tap to be honored by the Living Legends Foundation,Inc.

The event is scheduled for Thursday, August 22 at 6:PM . McCann is being acknowledged for his large body of work that spans five decades. the festivities are being held at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center. Mr. McCann, along with two other musicians, saxophonist/educator Daniel Jackson and saxophonist, Bobby “Hurricane” Spencer.  The awards presentation is part of a series entitled, Living Legends Jazzabration. the organization’s mission is unique in the fact that they select and honor Living Jazz & Blues Legends;celebrating their contributions while they’re alive and can appreciate the recognition .For reservations and more information, call Linda Morgan 562-762-6441, or go to their site


Les McCann at Mike headshot

Leslie Coleman “Les” McCann (born September 23, 1935, Lexington,Kentucky.  Les McCann is a Soul Jazz pianist/vocalist whose greatest success came as a crossover artist of R&B and Soul. McCann’s humble beginnings began in the military  when he won a Navy talent contest for singing,which led to an appearance on the Ed Sullivan.  Les landed a contract with Pacific Jazz label in the early 1960s, where he produced a series of Jazz trio and compilation records with other label mates.

By 1969, now with Atlantic Records, He released Swiss Movement,  a recording by McCann with frequent collaborator, saxophonist  , Eddie Harris and guest trumpeter  Benny Bailey at that year’s Montreux Jazz Festival. that album contained the song “Compared To What”, and both the album and the single were huge Billboard pop chart successes. “Compared To What” featured political criticism of the Vietnam War. The song was not written by McCann, but a fellow Atlantic composer/artist, Gene McDaniels had written it years earlier.

“Compared To What” was initially recorded and released by soul vocalist Roberta Flack. Her version appeared as the opening track on her debut recording, First Take (1969). After the success of Swiss Movement, McCann, primarily a piano player  began to emphasize his  rather “gruff” vocals more.

He was considered an innovator in the Soul Jazz style, merging jazz with funk, soul and world rhythms. He was among the first jazz musicians to include electric piano, clavinet, and synthesizer in his music.

In 1971, he and Harris were part of a group of soul, R&B, and rock performers — including Wilson PickettThe Staple SingersSantana and Ike & Tina Turner — who flew to Accra,Ghana for a historic 14-hour concert before more than 100,000 Ghanaians. The concert was recorded for the documentary film Soul To Soul. In 2004 the movie was released on DVD with an accompanying soundtrack album.

Les McCann discovered Roberta Flack and obtained an audition which resulted in a recording contract with Atlantic Records.

A mild stroke in the mid-1990s sidelined McCann for a while, but, in 2002 he released a new album, Pump it Up. McCann has also exhibited as a professional painter and photographer. These days Mr. McCann is quite busy doing what he was born to do..performing and planting smiles on the faces of his audiences all over the world.  Well done Mr. McCann, You deserve it.

In 1967, at the world-famous Lighthouse Jazz Club, three teen-aged musicians  attended a Les McCann Trio concert, and went backstage afterwards. they were met by a gregarious, fun-loving guy,  who was very generous with his time  by answering questions and just offering some encouraging words ..One of those teenagers was myself, Robert J. Carmack.

Living Legends jazzabrations


Hard Bop Jazz Master Pianist Cedar Walton Dies

posted by Robert J. CarmackCedar Walton

August 19 2013_  Jazz pianist,composer and  longtime hard-bop icon Cedar Walton died today at his Brooklyn New York home .no details regarding cause have been reported. Walton,79 is survived by his wife Martha and a host of family members and close friends.  as more details are revealed this publication will report those facts.

Walton was first taught piano by his mother, and, after high school, moved to Colorado to commence studies at the University of Denver. There, during after-hours jazz club gigs, he met musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Coltrane, who would sit in with Walton’s group when traveling through town.

“In 1959, he recorded with Coltrane on his seminal album Giant Steps, but the recordings weren’t included on the initial issue of the album; the alternate tracks were later issued on the CD version. From 1960-61, Walton worked with Art Farmer and Benny Golson’s band Jazztet.

“Walton’s next significant musical association was with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. During his years with Blakey (1961-64), Walton stepped forward as composer, contributing originals such as “Mosaic,” “Ugetsu,” and “The Promised Land” to the group’s repertoire. …

“In 1974, Walton joined with bassist Sam Jones, drummer Billy Higgins, and saxophonist Clifford Jordan to form the group Eastern Rebellion, which would perform and record sporadically over the subsequent two decades. Other musicians rotated in and out of the band, including George Coleman, Bob Berg, Ralph Moore, David Williams, Curtis Fuller, and Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros. …

“In addition, he continued to perform in rhythm sections for Milt Jackson, Frank Morgan, and Dexter Gordon and accompanied vocalists Ernestine Anderson and Freddy Cole. He also led the backup trio for the Trumpet Summit Band, which started as a project for the 1995 Jazz in Marciac festival in France.”  To be continued ,part II “Remembering Cedar”   coming August 25 in Hipster Sanctuary

Remembering Duke Pearson:Jazz’s Other Duke

Duke Pearson Right Touch LP

posted by Robert J. Carmack

Jazz pianist and composer who also had experience as producer,bandleader,arranger and A&R  man for Blue Note in the 1960s and beyond. His talent and perseverance help shape the Hard Bop  direction for Blue Note records.

“Even after 30 + years past his death, his legacy has to fight for any mention on broadcasts, books on jazz, and so-called jazz historian essays.”

The last few years,there has been rumblings of exhibits,Hall of Fame inclusion in Georgia, etc.so far,its only been conjecture and wishful thinking on the part of family members and fans. IMHO, Duke Pearson was too talented, and special to not be included in any Hall of Fame, museums or major jazz exhibits.Some of my favorite music in Jazz  just happens to be music composed, produced or arranged by Duke Pearson. Jeannine by Eddie Jefferson, & Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams group. The Phantom, Wahoo, Amanda, Sweet Honey Bee. I can hardly keep still whenever I plop on Rough N’ Tumble by Stanley Turrentine on Blue Note records,circa 1965. Pearson’s uncanny ability to conduct magic with large ensembles of 6-9 pieces, providing them with big band voicing and dynamics, thereby squeezing every ounce of soul out of the sessions he produced. The other aspect of Duke’s signature was his pick of the greatest musicians of the era,which mostly were on Blue Note or had recorded on blue Note sessions before. Anyway you sliced it, it always came out WINNER!!

DUKE was born Columbus Calvin Pearson, Jr. August 17 1932 in Atlanta, Georgia to Columbus Calvin and Emily Pearson. The moniker “Duke” was given to him by his uncle, who was a great admirer of Duke Ellington. Before he was six, his mother started giving him piano lessons, an instrument he studied until he was twelve.Then, he took an interest in brass instrumentsmellophonebaritone horn and ultimately trumpet. He was so fond of the trumpet that through high school and college, he neglected the piano. He attended Clark College while also playing trumpet in groups in the Atlanta area. While in the Army, during his 1953-1954 draft, he continued to play trumpet and met, among the others, pianist Wynton Kelly. Pearson himself confessed in a 1959 interview that he was “so spoiled by Kelly’s good piano”, that he decided to switch to piano again  Also, it seems that dental issues forced him to give up brass instruments. He continued to perform with different ensembles in Georgia and Florida, including with Tab Smith and Little Willie John, before he moved to New York City in January 1959.  

sweet hony Bee LP Duke

In New York, Pearson gained the attention of trumpeter Donald Byrd, who saw Pearson performing with the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Sextet (The Jazztet). Shortly afterwards, Byrd asked him to join his newly formed band, the Donald Byrd-Pepper Adams Quintet. Pearson was also the accompanist for Nancy Wilson on tour in 1961. During that same year, Pearson became ill before a Byrd-Adams show, and  newcomer  Herbie Hancock took over for him. This eventually led to Hancock taking over the position permanently.

On the 1963 Byrd album  A New Perspective, Pearson arranged four tracks, including “Cristo Redentor”, which became a big hit. That song, Pearson later commented, was inspired by a trip he took to Brazil.  Also that year, after the death of Ike Quebec, Pearson took over his position as A&R man for Blue Note. From that year until 1970, Pearson was a frequent session musician and producer for numerous Blue Note albums, while also recording his own albums as bandleader. This was odd, since Pearson also recorded his co-led big band with Byrd for Atlantic Records, a stipulation he made sure was in his Atlantic contract.  The Byrd-Pearson band consisted of iconic musicians like Chick CoreaPepper AdamsRandy Brecker, and Garnett Brown; the latter three were members of the Thad JonesMel Lewis band. Pearson’s compositions include the now standard, frequently covered “Jeannine”, composed in 1960, an early cover appears on  Cannonball Adderley‘s  album Them Dirty Blues (1960).

Tender Feelins  Duke P. My favorite non-Duke version is by Eddie Jefferson’s (vocalese arrangement of Byrd/Pepper Adams cut from the Half Note sessions. Pearson eventually retired from his position with Blue Note in 1971 after personnel changes were made; co-founder Alfred Lion retired in 1967 after the label was sold to Liberty Records the previous year and co-founder Frank Wolff died in 1971. Pearson opted to teach at Clark College in 1971, toured with CarmenMcRae and Joe Williams through 1973, and eventually reformed his big band during that time.

He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the 1970s, from which he died in 1980 at Atlanta Veterans Hospital He is survived by children, a host of family and long time friends, including peers from his long musical career  as innovator, producer and top shelf composer of jazz standards.

Jacques Lesure AllStar Quartet Featuring Eric Reed Willie Jones III One Night Only!

Jacques in  BOW action

Listen: http://www.jacqueslesure.com/live/

The LAX JAZZ CLUB presents Live & in Concert

Performing Tonight August 15  7PM

Jacques Lesure  All-Star Quartet


Jacques Lesure Guitar  Eric Reed Piano  Willie Jones III Drums  Mike Gurrola Bass

 Guitarist, Jacques Lesure has performed with some of the greatest musicians in the world, Oscar Brown Jr., Stanley Turrentine, Wynton Marsalis , Les McCann to name a few. Tonight’s performances will feature new material from the maiden voyage debut of ” WHEN SHE SMILES” on the WJ3 Jazz label. 

WJ3 is owned by highly-acclaimed jazz drummer Willie Jones III ,who also performs on the New CD. In addition to performing on the tracks as the pianist,Eric Reed handled most of the arrangements on the session. Lesure also chose to use the hot young bassist and recent winner of  the Thelonius Monk Institute’s competition Mike Gurrola . If you like your music to “swing like a gate,” Don’t Miss tonight’s performances.       No Cover –  Drink/Food minimum required.

   Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel                                                                                                          willie Jones III Bow
5985 West Century Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90045
  310-642-7500  RSVP recommended
www.Crowne Plaza.com

Eric Reed Bow Now

Are Baby-Boomer Performers Disrespected in Music Television and Films ??

posted by Robert J. Carmack

Do You Feel Older Performers are Getting Treated Fairly? 

Many times this question gets tossed around by a group of actors & musicians..  and truly I get the same answers, but that’s just from the people who feel its being done to them..Over the coming months, we will further explore and question a few individuals willing to discuss this.   So we are posing this question..Please respond Good , Bad, Indifferent.

One doesn’t have to look too far , when looking at the bevy of  20 something shows dominating the airwaves , including pseudo-reality talent programs. although I have been seeing a higher increase of known movie actors , now being featured in some of the smaller network cable shows. In terms of minority representation on television or movies , It’s even worse. I think we all can agree, the talent pool is quite deeper than we’re being led to believe.

What Your take on the question for all three categories or, just one??  brief comments always welcomed 

Music & Recording Industry   Yes/No

Network Television                     Yes/No

Films                                                 Yes/No


Thomas Simmons Hosts New Show Jazz That Soothes Your Soul

Thomas Simmons

Thomas Simmons Hosts ” JAZZ That Soothes Your Soul”

10PM – Midnite EST Friday Nights

BE Sure to Tune in Tonight at  WRFG FM 89.3   10PM EST /  7PM PST 

Thomas Simmons,formerly of WCLK FM in Atlanta , a local iconic Jazz host with a great following of serious  jazz collectors and fans nation-wide via live stream  click on link to stream http://www.wrfg.org/


posted by Robert J. Carmack

It was announced by CentricTV.Com,  memorial services for the late George Duke will  stream LIVE from the website on Monday, August 19, 5:PM Eastern / 2:PM Pacific

His manager Darryl Porter confirmed the details of Duke’s death last week stating, he had suffered heart complications after being treated for chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia; he was 67.  His wife Corine died just last year after her battle with cancer . Duke is survived by his two sons, Rashid and John.