Special Homecoming Performance Highlights Lyric's Anniversary Celebration
The Lyric Theatre celebrates its third RE-birthday this weekend. WUKY's Debraun Thomas reports.
On Friday, October 18th, the Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center will present a special “homecoming” concert featuring one of Lexington’s favorite cultural sons—the iconic jazz pianist, vocalist and composer, Les McCann. Known as one of the “godfathers” of soul jazz, Les McCann is recognized as a founding force for the genre generally known as jazz funk which emerged in the mid-1960’s.
This concert will mark the first time McCann has performed in his hometown in nearly three decades with the last two appearances occurring in the mid-1980’s—once as a featured act in the UK Spotlight Jazz Series and also as the headliner for the Roots & Heritage Festival. In 2008, he was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.
The Les McCann concert is the highlight of the Lyric Theatre’s Third Anniversary Celebration. The concert is set for 7:30pm. Reserved tickets [$25 & $35] are on sale now at the Lyric Theatre box office and can be purchased on-line atwww.lexingtonlyric.com. Call 280-2218 for more information.
Les McCann is, perhaps, best known for his work in the early 1960’s and 70’s with his musical collaborator, Eddie Harris. After an initial encounter at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival, the pair went on to record Swiss Movement which was a top selling jazz record and the single Compared To What sold platinum. The same year, Much Les, without Harris, went to the top of the charts with the ballad With These Hands. Second Movement, released in 1971, reunited McCann and Harris, and acclaimed recordings such as Invitation To Openness , the double-album Live At Montreux , and Layers  followed. Producer Joel Dorn said of this period in McCann’s career, “His perfect marriage of church and swing captured the spirit of the times in the same way that Ray Charles’ mixture of gospel and blues heralded the arrival of Soul.”
As a constantly evolving artist, Les McCann has played countless sessions with some of the greatest names in jazz. He co-produced and co-headlined the debut album with Lou Rawls,Stormy Weather  and “guested” each other’s albums with Stanley Turrentine, who played sax on McCann’s In New York and McCann on Turrentine’s That’s Where Its At . In the early seventies, McCann heard Roberta Flack for the first time in a Washington, D.C. nightclub and immediately became her champion, as he did similarly with Mahalia Jackson and Nancy Wilson.
Les McCann’s homecoming concert will feature him in collaboration with one of the finest contemporary jazz units on the scene—The Javon Jackson Band. Javon Jackson is an internationally esteemed tenor saxophonist who came into prominence as a protégé of the legendary Art Blakey and as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. As a representative of a new generation of jazz musicians, Jackson’s music blends tradition with neo-jazz. He has released more than fourteen recordings as a band leader and has recorded and performed with jazz greats the likes of Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Haden, Betty Carter, Donald Byrd, Stanley Turrentine, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Bobby Hutcherson. The Javon Jackson Band blends many styles from the jazz tradition—from jazz and funk to R&B and neo-soul. Javon Jackson is also currently Associate Professor of Jazz and Chair of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School in Hartford, Connecticut.
To Purchase Tickets, go to www.lexingtonlyric.tix.com
or call The Lyric at (859) 280-2218