Les McCann, soul jazz pioneer, passes away at 88

Jazz icon Les McCann, a trailblazer in the soul jazz genre, passed away at 88 in Los Angeles on Friday, succumbing to pneumonia. His manager, Alan Abrahams, confirmed the news on Monday, revealing McCann’s recent residence in a skilled nursing facility.

Raised in a churchgoing family, McCann’s earthy, uplifting musical style, shaped by electric keyboards and soulful vocals, left an indelible mark on the music scene. His extensive discography, spanning from 1960 to 2018, not only influenced funk and R&B artists but also provided a rich source for hip-hop samples.

McCann’s unexpected breakthrough occurred in June 1969 at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The seasoned artiste, already with numerous albums under his belt, collaborated spontaneously with tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris and trumpeter Benny Bailey. Despite no prior rehearsal, their impromptu performance became a pivotal moment, recorded and filmed for broadcast.

While McCann’s passing marks the end of a legendary era, his legacy lives on through the timeless influence of his soulful jazz contributions.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date