Les McCann - Layers (LP)

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Starting in the late 60s, jazz music started to take an interesting, and very soulful turn. Influenced by the funk of the day – from James Brown to Sly & The Family Stone – the artform, generally not considered a funky musical genre, started to stretch out and fit into the times. It was a fertile era, and to reciprocate, funk, soul and groovy rock fans started to discover accomplished, open-minded jazz artists like Les McCann, whose tunes made sense to their ears, even if bebop hadn’t grabbed them.

This incredible album – long a favorite of forward-thinking hip-hop producers and DJs – washes over listeners from the first chords of the incredible album opener, “Sometimes I Cry,” led by McCann’s array of analog synthesizers and backed by an excellent rhythm section (Donald Dean on drums; Ralph McDonald on percussion and Jimmy Rowser on bass).

Truth be told, highlights are hard to pick out, but fans never go long without returning to the fuzzed-out funk of “The Harlem Buck Strut Dance,” “Let’s Play (Til Mom Calls)” and “It Never Stopped In My Hometown.” These keyboard-drenched grooves sat alongside record stacks brimming with Stevie Wonder, Funkadelic, Marvin Gaye’s 70s soul and, of course, Miles Davis’ space funk experiments of the era (like Bitches Brew).

Whether you’re new to Layers or just updating a well-loved and heavily worn-out copy, throw this one on, light one up and lose yourself for an hour…or even a couple days, if you have the option.


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