Over the course of a career that’s spanned parts of six decades, Les McCann has earned a reputation as one of the best soul-jazz pianists of all times. One of his greatest recordings, 1972 improvisational gem “Inivitation to Openness,” is being brought to a new generation of listeners thanks to an expanded reissue courtesy of Omnivore.
“I love to listen to this music with openness and without thoughts or imates,” the 79-year-old McCann explains. “I turn the lights down and the music up, and I find joy in the different places it takes me.”
The original three-track release was anchored by 26-minute tour de force “The Lovers” and the sprawling tune has never sounded better. It includes dynamic solos by Yusel Lateef, David Spinozza and Alphonse Mouzon and represents McCann at the height of his improvisational prowess.
Remaining tunes “Beaux J. Poo Boo” and “Poo Pye McGoochie (and His Friends) pale slightly in comparison but merit some attention. The reissue ascends to essential status with a rare live verison of “Compared to What” featuring the legendary Buddy Guy on guitar. Free-form jazz doesn’t get much better than this. (Jeffrey Sisk)