Photo: F.N. Broers / Anefo - Public Domain

Jazz Great Les McCann: Dead At 88

Famous for combining jazz, funk, and R&B as well as pioneering soul jazz, trailblazing pianist and singer Les McCann died on Friday (12.29.) He was 88 years old.

Though the cause of death has yet to be disclosed, McCann’s manager Alan Abrahams told NBC News that the musician had passed away at a Los Angeles hospital following a bout with pneumonia a week prior. And, according to The New York Times, for the last four years, the singer lived in a skilled Los Angeles-based nursing facility.

Remembered best for his 1967 protest song “Compared to What,” alongside saxophonist Eddie Harris, McCann recorded more than 50 full lengths throughout his lifetime.

A significant volume of his work lives on today through classic hip-hop songs that’ve sampled his work, including Notorious B.I.G.’s “10 Crack Commandments” that incorporates Les’ composition “Vallarta,” A Tribe Called Quest’s “After Hours” that features “North Carolina,” and Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s “Next Episode” that utilizes “Go on and Cry.” According to the Times, some 300 artists – including the likes of Warren G., Slick Rick, Cypress Hill, and Nas – have taken inspiration from, and sampled McCann’s work in their music,

Born in 1935 in Lexington, Kentucky, the singer/songwriter formed a trio after being discharged from the U.S. Navy, where won a talent contest and performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. He subsequently released LPs Les McCann Plays the Truth and The Shout in 1960 as he built his profile as a musician, per Variety.

Signing a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1968, Les released a cover of Gene McDaniels’ “Compared to What” which went on to become one of the biggest releases of his career.

When discussing McDaniels track in 2017, the multi-talented artist said “When I heard him, I hired him in my band — one of the best singers I’ve ever heard. And I found out he was also a writer. We stayed in touch for years after that, and he would always send me songs.” “I can’t tell you how many songs he sent me, but that one stuck with me.”

Keep up with the latest trending music news by following us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Author: Al Denté

Photo: F.N. Broers / Anefo – Public Domain