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Monday, September 10, 2012






Les McCann, Ltd., was a rising star for Dick Bock’s Pacific Jazz label, much the same as the first group that was taped for JAZZ SCENE USA, The Jazz Crusaders.  Les McCann first emerged on the jazz scene in the late 1950s when he won recognition at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach during the annual Easter Week Collegiate Competition.  One of his earliest trios, photographed below by Howard Lucraft at The Lamp, featured Herbie Lewis on bass and Alonzo Garibaldi on drums.  The Lamp, at 1608 North Cahuenga Boulevard would become Shelly’s Manne-Hole, and Shelly Manne and His Men would be the guest artists on the third show taped for JAZZ SCENE USA.

The Lamp, 1608 N. Cahuenga            Alonzo Garibaldi, Herbie Lewis and Les McCann

The liner note excerpts reproduced below provide some of the background on Les McCann and his rise in the jazz field.  Special thanks to Kirk Silsbee for providing background on The Lamp and The Bit.

Listening to Teddy's horn against Les' piano, my thoughts retraced to our first meeting in 1958 at Los Angeles City College. Out of those days grew the Les McCann of today and oddly enough, despite his tremendous musical growth, little else has changed about him as a person. When we met, Les was doing a lot of woodsheddin' (a term used by musicians when struggling to gain experience or recognition) and gaining virtually nothing. I, too, was doing a bit of woodsheddin' with no particular purpose in mind, and on this we based a rather nice association.

I followed his progress from school through the local expresso camps until he landed a steady gig at one of the better ones, "The Lamp." He was working with a new bass player, Herbie Lewis, and had Alonzo Gerabaldi on drums. From talking with Les and listening to him play, I could notice a certain eagerness to explore, create, and in short, depart from what he was then playing.

Before long things began to happen. Alonzo left to form his own group, and Lewis accepted a job with the new Chico Hamilton quintet. This gave Les enough time to gather his forces and make a new charge on his goals.

The first change appeared in the form of drummer Ron Jefferson. One night a short time later, Jefferson's asthetic figure appeared on the scene during the job and he set in. The set was so groovy as Ron relates it, that he called Leroy Vinnegar, his longtime friend, to come down and join the fun. Les McCann Ltd. was born. To restate a fact, I mentioned in a Record Review a short time ago, actually you can title anything Les does practically "Goin' to church with Les McCann."

Liner note excerpt from TEDDY EDWARDS - IT’S ABOUT TIME with LES MCCANN, LTD, Pacific Jazz PJ-6, 1960, by Maurice Haws © EMI Capitol Music

Pianist Les McCann is the newest jazz personality on the West Coast to create a positive sensation. His first album on Pacific Jazz established him as a unique jazz personality with roots in church gospel and blues. Les McCann Ltd. opened a new coffee house on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood called "The Bit" and in less than three weeks time firmly established the group as the hip jazz room in Hollywood. Les is backed by the Rock of Gibraltar in that extraordinary musician LeRoy Vinnegar, widely known for his bass work with Shelley Manne's groups, and drummer Ron Jefferson, a new arrival on the West Coast Jazz scene who has played on the East Coast with a group known as the Jazz Modes.

Liner note excerpt from LIKE SOUL - GLORIA SMYTH with LES MCCANN, LTD., World Pacific WP-1293, 1960, © EMI Capitol Music

Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

Jazz Scene U.S.A. #2 - Opening Sequence

Les McCann Ltd with Ron Jefferson and Leroy Vinnegar

Production credits:
Host: Oscar Brown, Jr.
Executive Producer: Philip Turetsky
Producer: Jimmie Baker
Director: Steve Binder
Associate Producer: Vince Cilurzo
Associate Director: George Turpin
Technical Director: Jim Brady
Lighting Director: Leard Davis
Audio: Larry Eaton
Art Director: Jim Trittipo
Music Coordinator: John Fresco
Production Assistant: Penny Stewart

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