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When Les McCann interpolates the melody of "Age of Aquarius" in the introduction to "Compared to What," one sits back and says, "Ah yes, 1969." But he more than pulls it off, leading into a rambunctious and utterly infectious rendition of the classic piece, replete with exhortations of "Sock it to me!" This piece, written by Gene McDaniels, has to be one of the masterpieces of jazz-pop and the album could be recommended for its inclusion alone. Happily, the remainder of this live set, recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland (originally released on Atlantic), follows a similarly joyful and funky path, even if the group never quite scales the same heights. Saxophonist Eddie Harris' "Cold Duck Time" is as down-home as its title, and McCann's wincingly named "The Generation Gap" is as relaxed and cool as a lakeside breeze. Harris brings a needed tinge of free playing to the band, erupting into the occasional impassioned snarl while never neglecting the soulful roots. Trumpeter Benny Bailey also deserves special mention, his every contribution sharp and to the point. Altogether a fine recording, providing a shining example of what could be achieved in the soul-jazz genre without giving in to slickness in the slightest.
1 Compared to What McDaniels 8:41
2 Cold Duck Time Harris 6:31
3 Kathleen's Theme McCann 5:45
4 You Got It in Your Soulness McCann 7:08
5 Generation Gap McCann 8:45
PLUS BONUS TRACK: