Skip to content

LPs from the Attic: Les McCann and Eddie Harris — Live at Montreux

February 8, 2010

Les McCann and Eddie Harris — Swiss Movement: Recorded Live at The Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland (Atlantic, 1969)

As a noted theologian once put it, “Fuck it. I ain’t gonna lie.” To wit: I’ll go ahead and state for the record that this record didn’t come from the Attic. I bought it a few years ago from CD Central on Euclid Avenue in Lexington, KY. Why did I buy it? Because I’d heard stand-out track “Compared to What” on WRFL, 88.1 FM and thought that the song not only swung like Tarzan DJing a Mad Men-themed cocktail party but also featured the most compelling, passionate use of the word “goddamn” that I’d heard in popular music this side of Steppenwolf’s Hoyt-Axton-penned “The Pusher.”

This piano and sax-driven song (this album, in fact, captured after the principals’ separate sets with their Trio and Quartet) represents the duo’s zenith, both in terms of the popularity of anti-Vietnam single “Compared” and their overall critical and popular high-water mark. But, that is not to say that there aren’t songs of equal or near-equal quality on Swiss Movement. Instrumental tracks such as “Cold Duck Time ” and “You Got It in Your Soulness” more than hold their own.

Although purportedly unrehearsed, the McCann Trio  (Les on piano and vocals, Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Donald Dean on drums), Harris (tenor sax), and Billy Bailey (trumpet) turn in propulsive–sometimes explosive–performances that couldn’t be more timely (as is the case with “Compared”) given their expressive vibrance and explorations of themes of civil rights, unpopular war, and poverty.

And to think that I bought this record solely because I liked the groove and the vehement use of a dirty word! A few spins later, it turns out to be ass-shakingly topical AND one of my favorite live jazz records!

Track list:

  1. Compared to What
  2. Cold Duck Time
  3. Kathleen’s Theme
  4. You Got It in Your Soulness
  5. The Generation Gap

Sock it to me!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: