2 March 2011

Les McCann & The Jazz Crusaders - Jazz Waltz

Les McCann & The Jazz Crusaders for Pacific Jazz from 1963.
Les McCann (piano, electric piano, organ)Wilton Felder (tenor sax)Wayne Henderson (trombone)Joe Sample (piano, organ)Robert Haynes (bass)Stix Hooper (drums)

The funky piano of Les McCann hooks up with the raw soul jazz of the early Crusaders for this excellent set of short, sharp swinging cuts."Damascus" and "Spanish Castles" hit a marvelous modal mode but the whole album is a cracker.
Unbelievably never reissued and this is the first time it's been posted in blogland - All Killer No Filler.
Edited Sleeve Notes by Joel Dorn:

We should all be thankful that in the past when World Pacific or Pacific Jazz brought musicians of stature into the studio to record together, the pairings were not based upon name value alone. Rather empathy and adaptability were used as criteria.
Some memorable Pacific Jazz combinations have been Richard "Groove" Holmes and Gene Ammons ("Groovin' With Jug" PJ-32) and Les McCann and Stanley Turrentine (Les McCann in New York PJ-45). These albums were successful because all parties concerned had a common ground upon which they could meet.
It is for precisely the same reason that this particular album is a success. Les and the Crusaders are possessed of a common denominator in their familiarity with the blues. McCann's primal funk and the Crusader's searing Texas preaching have a natural affinity for each other.
McCann rode the crest of the late fifties soul wave and while others of that era have been washed ashore, Les is still riding high. While the Crusaders didn't make as great an initial splash as McCann, their popularity has been growing steadily, especially in the East where they have yet to be seen in person. Beyond any doubt they are one of the two or three most substantial jazz groups to emerge in the sixties.
I am reluctant about any discussion of the music in this album because I hate to use words to attempt to describe something the ears can understand fully and without any preliminary explanation.
In closing I would inject one brief personal note. Recently when the Ray Charles Band had a two-week stand not far from Philadelphia I had the chance to hang out with my good friend David "Fathead" Newman whose been with Ray Charles for years. "Fathead" is recognized as the current dean of the Texas school of tenor playing. Sometime during the two weeks I happened to ask him what he thought of the Crusaders. His answer was simple. He smiled broadly and said "Yeah." This is much akin to having George Bernard Shaw give you an A in English composition. Need more be said.