Les McCann is an American soul jazz pianist and vocalist whose biggest successes came as a crossover artist into R&B and soul. Javon Jackson played in the Jazz Messengers until Art Blakey's death.
Les McCann's main career began in the early 1960s when he recorded as a pianist with his trio for Pacific Jazz Records.
In 1969, Atlantic Records released Swiss Movement, a recording of McCann with frequent collaborator, saxophonist Eddie Harris, and guest trumpeter Benny Bailey at that year's Montreux Jazz Festival. The album contained the song "Compared to What", and both the album and the single were huge Billboard pop chart successes.
"Compared to What" featured political criticism of the Vietnam War. The song was initially recorded and released by Roberta Flack.
After the success of Swiss Movement, 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; much of his early 1970s music prefigures the Stevie Wonder albums of that decade. He was among the first jazz musicians to include electric piano, clavinet, and synthesizer in his music.
Les McCann discovered Roberta Flack and obtained an audition which resulted in a recording contract with Atlantic Records. A mild stroke in the mid 1990s sidelined McCann for a while, but in 2002 he released a new album, Pump it Up. McCann has also exhibited as a painter and photographer.
Les McCann performed with his Magic Band on the Bratislava Jazz Days in 1994.
Javon Jackson is an American jazz tenor saxophonist. He played in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers from 1987 until Blakey's death in 1990, and has also played with the Harper Brothers, Benny Green, Freddie Hubbard and Elvin Jones.
In his solo career, his music has been a mix of hard bop with soul and funk influences. He released 14 solo albums, half of them on the label Blue Note. His latest album “Expression” came out earlier this year.