LES MCCANN — Invitation to Openness

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LES MCCANN - Invitation to Openness cover
4.58 | 8 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1972

Filed under Fusion


A The Lovers 26:11
B1 Beaux J. Poo Boo 13:12
B2 Poo Pye McGoochie (And His Friends) 12:34

Total Time: 51:39


- Les McCann / piano, electric piano, Moog synth
- Corky Hale- harp /
- Yusef Lateef / flute, oboe, sax, percussion
- David Spinozza, Cornell Dupree / guitars
- Jimmy Rowser, Bill Salter / bass
- Buck Clarke, William Clarke, Donald Dean, Alphonze Mouzon, Bernard Purdie / percussion, drums

About this release

Atlantic – SD 1603 (US)

Recorded at Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, N.Y.

Thanks to silent way, snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

The first heyday for psychedelic jazz fusion went down in the late 60s to early 70s, but this style has been making a steady comeback since the mid-90s due to cult like interest from both the acid jazz crowd and the NYC Knitting Factory scene. The first wave of psychedelic jazzers were the logical outcome of several prevailing music trends. First you had the post bop and avant-garde saxophonists from Coltrane to Pharoh Sanders who were engaging in longer and longer modal jams that had taken on all manner of exotic influences, secondly the psychedelic rockers like Cream and Hendrix who could mimic the lengthy flights of a jazz band and third, and possibly even more important, the technically challenged rock bands such as Pink Floyd, Velvet Underground and Amon Duul who bypassed their lack of technical virtuosity with free flowing jams in which every member contributed equally. It is those jazz records in which the musicians opted for the more communal approach of the third option that have become most interesting in the modern era. Albums such as Miles’ “Bitches Brew” and “On the Corner”, as well as Les McCann’s “Invitation to Openess”, are all representative of that style where the group effort outweighs individual solos.

Les McCann’s “Invitaion” is a classic in this world of jazzy psychedelia, all the right instruments are here; several Fender Rhodes, wah wah guitars, Moog synthesizer, electric harps, multiple drummers and percussionists, echoplexes for everyone and bell trees galore. Despite the high number of instruments, everyone is careful to find their right spot in the rich tapestry. If you like jams such as “Ife” and “Great Expectations” you will probably enjoy this almost kitsch blend of Indian exotica and funky blaxploitation soundtrack.

“The Lovers” opens side one and sets the mood with Yusef Lateef’s Indian oboe melody riding on top of a sea of grooving percussion and wah wah guitars. Flashy solos are kept on hold for the whole side as the musicians smoothly navigate various moods and energy levels, often interjecting a new riff at just the right time to keep things moving. Side two continues in similar fashion with Lateef taking a flute ride on the first cut and McCann playing some bold analog synth melodies on the last cut.

In a lot of ways McCann was an odd participant in this short lived trend in jazz. Les had previously made his mark as the meat and potatoes RnB jazz guy, avoiding the excesses of bop and the avant-garde in favor of something that regular folks could relate to. His foray into psychedelia was short lived, but he left us with one of the finest records in this short lived genre. Its possible that his background in RnB and his unpretentious keyboard vamps have a lot to do with this album’s well-grounded focus and lack of excess.

Members reviews

I don't know a whole lot about Les McCann, apparently he's associated as a soul/R&B-influenced jazz musician, but 1972's Invitation to Openness is very much a straight-up fusion album, and a wonderful album. It's very much in the post-In a Silent Way/Bitches Brew type of fusion, and perhaps reminders of Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi Band-era albums. There's only a few faces I'm familiar with helping out on this album, including Alphonse Mouzon (who played on Weather Report's debut), Yusef Lateef, Bernard Purdie, and David Spinozza (who I was previously familiar with on Julian Priester's Love Love album). The others I am not as so familiar with.

The 26 minute "The Loves" is nothing else than the best of fusion. It starts off mellow so I get reminded of In a Silent Way-era Miles Davis, but then they really got going. I really dig the harp being used, played in a rather trippy manner. Soprano sax playing gets me thinking of Karl Jenkins' sax playing in Soft Machine. "Beaux J. Poo Poo" does show a bit of the soul influenced that McCann is known for, but it's still very much fusion, and is also another winner. "Poo Pye McGoochie (And His Friends)" starts off with a nice dreamy electric piano that makes me think of those Canterbury jazz rock albums, before the music takes off. Here McCann also includes a nice synth melody he repeats several times throughout, where in between is improvisation. This is simply fusion of the first order and any fusion fan needs this album!

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