Life in the City of Angels: The Three Muses

Three Muses:
“Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story ”…
These three Muses are thought to be the goddesses of inspiration in literature, science and the arts.The Muses are believed to live on Mt. Olympus which is a prominent neighborhood near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. It is here that the Muses entertained their father, Sid Zeusberger (a powerful studio head) and the other Olympian gods with their great artistry. Today, the three Muses take a break from their celestial duties and head to the Beverly Center for shopping, lunch and wine.

Life in the City of Angels: Lease on Life

For Lease
Once long ago I was a man able to stand alone
I’m in the third season of my life and I live alone
Someone like you sees me everyday, but I’m not invited
My hurts are no noticed, but I wish you the best
I can see you crystal clear, yet you do not have time to hear my story
You don’t think I’m real– but, in fact, I am you
I haven’t been on my own two feet in a very long time
I’ve heard that your dreams came true, only yesterday I had dreams, too
Isn’t it funny, what we become isn’t what we wanted
I once held my head high, if I could only tell you who I once was
It’s the darnedest thing to understand, even after surrendering
The lease on life is short, swept away by time

“Compared to What” Shooting Les McCann and Javon Jackson

Glenwood Recording Studio, Burbank, California

Les McCann

Les McCann first gained some fame in 1956 when he won a talent contest in the Navy as a singer that resulted in an appearance on television on The Ed Sullivan Show . McCann reached the peak of his career in 1968 Montreux Jazz Festival, recording “Compared to What” with saxophonist Eddie Harris. After the success of Swiss Movement album, McCann — primarily a piano player — began to emphasize his rough-hewn vocals more. He became an innovator in the soul jazz style, merging jazz with funk, soul and world rhythms. He was also among the first jazz musicians to include electric piano, clavinet, and synthesizer in his music. In 1971 McCann and Harris were part of a touring group of soul, R&B, and rock performers which included Wilson Pickett,The Staple Singers, Santan and Ike & Tina Turner. McCann is also credited in discovering Roberta Flack and obtained an audition which resulted in a recording contract for Ms. Flack with Atlantic Records.

Les McCann and Javon Jackson prior to recording

Javon Jackson

In the mid 90’s  McCann suffered a stroke that weakened his keyboard playing but his powerful singing kept him on the road. McCann’s comeback was solidified in 2002’s  with “Pump It Up” a guest-heavy celebration of funk and jazz released on ESC Records. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Swiss Movement album, tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson brought veteran McCann and a young trio of musicians to the KC Jazz Club for Swiss Movement Revisited. 

Javon Jackson, Patrick Smith/ Audio Mixer and Les McCann

Javon Jackson

Jackson is used to working with legends he cut his musical teeth with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the 1980s. He went on to record with such greats as the late Freddie Hubbard, Elvin Jones, Cedar Walton and Stanley Turrentine. Jackson leads his own group, and his latest release (Once Upon a Melody) hit No. 1 on the jazz radio charts.

Les McCann listening to the playback

In a 2009 Kennedy Center performance the interaction between Jackson, his young talented musicians and the old lion at the keyboard, Les McCann, reminded the audience that the old lion can still roar with heart.

Hearing the sweet note

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