Eight years ago, when I first moved to Los Angeles from Philly, I met a young man who was creating quite a stir at a coffee house in Hollywood called "The Bit." At the time, his tunes were mostly gospel-oriented (The Shout and The Truth) and were household names in Los Angeles. Even when I heard these early recordings I felt that I would like to hear Les McCann with strings. Here, on his first Atlantic album, my wish has come true. There are three tunes on this album where Bill Fischer (who arranges the strings) and Les McCann collaborate to tell about a beautiful young lady named Roberta, a hip young man called Benjamin and, finally, Les McCann just Doin' That Thing. Dig it--because Doin' That Thing will be another of Atlantic's big hits, like Eddie Harris' Listen Here. And by the way, listen here to Leroy Vinnegar's opening on bass.
The standard songs on the album, Love For Sale, I've Got You Under My Skin and With These Hands are done with his own simple and yet refreshing style. He is subtle but poignantly honest in his vocal offering of With These Hands. But the next, Burnin' Coal, is again the Gospel, soul-rocking, raunchy Les McCann with Donald Dean and Willie Bobo (augmenting the rhythm section) kicking him on.
Through the years I have known Les, his showmanship, love for his profession and pure talent have been a common bond between us (the musician and the athlete). Les would pull for me in the early years to get on that court and "do it," always reminding me that basketball was "my thing." Now I am honored to offer to you Les McCann completely "doin' his thing." Much Les is more Les than you've ever heard.
-- Walter Hazzard
Atlanta Hawks, N.B.A.