By | January 2, 2024

Les McCann, Pianist, Singer and Soul Jazz Pioneer, Dies at 88

The world of music mourns the loss of legendary pianist, singer, and soul jazz pioneer Les McCann, who passed away at the age of 88. The news of his death was confirmed by Donald Price on Twitter, leaving fans and fellow musicians devastated by the loss of a true musical genius.

Born on September 23, 1935, in Lexington, Kentucky, McCann showed an affinity for music at a young age. He began playing the piano at the age of nine and quickly developed a natural talent that would shape his future. Raised in a religious household, McCann grew up singing in his church choir, which laid the foundation for his soulful vocal style.

McCann’s career took off in the 1960s when he moved to Los Angeles and became a central figure in the soul jazz movement. He gained popularity for his unique blend of jazz, R&B, and gospel influences, creating a sound that resonated with audiences worldwide. McCann’s music was known for its infectious grooves, soulful melodies, and powerful improvisations, making him a pioneer in the genre.

One of McCann’s most notable achievements was his 1969 album “Swiss Movement,” recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The album featured his iconic performance of “Compared to What,” which became a worldwide hit and showcased his ability to infuse social and political commentary into his music. “Swiss Movement” went on to become one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time and solidified McCann’s status as a jazz legend.

Throughout his career, McCann collaborated with numerous jazz luminaries, including Eddie Harris, Richard Davis, and Benny Golson, among many others. His collaborations showcased his versatility as a musician and his ability to adapt to different styles and genres. McCann’s ability to connect with audiences on an emotional level through his music made him a beloved figure in the jazz community.

Beyond his musical accomplishments, McCann was also known for his philanthropic efforts. He was passionate about using his platform to uplift and empower others, particularly in his hometown of Lexington. McCann established music programs and scholarships for aspiring musicians, ensuring that the next generation had the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

While the cause of McCann’s death remains unknown at this time, his legacy will continue to live on through his music. His contributions to the world of jazz and soul will forever be remembered and cherished by fans and musicians alike. McCann’s ability to infuse his music with passion, emotion, and social commentary was truly unparalleled.

As news of McCann’s passing spreads, tributes from fellow musicians and fans pour in, highlighting the profound impact he had on their lives. His music touched the hearts of millions and will continue to inspire future generations of musicians.

In conclusion, the world has lost a true musical legend with the passing of Les McCann. His contributions to the soul jazz genre and his philanthropic efforts will forever be remembered. As we mourn his loss, let us celebrate his life and the incredible music he shared with the world. Les McCann’s legacy will continue to resonate through the ages, ensuring that his spirit and talent are never forgotten..

Condolences

@dwprice said Les McCann, Pianist, Singer and Soul Jazz Pioneer, Dies at 88 nytimes.com/2024/01/01/art…

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