Pianist Les McCann and saxophonist Eddie Harris played the Gene McDaniels song “Compared to What” at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1969. Bret Primack, The Jazz Video Guy, recently put video of the performance on his Facebook page. It’s too good, too undated, not to share. Roberta Flack had minor success with the song on her first album, but McCann and Harris made it a hit when this version was a part of their Swiss Movement album. McDaniels conceived the song as a protest against inequality in American society andnot at all incidentally against the Viet Nam war. 1969 was the year of the secret bombing of Cambodia and the My Lai massacre. Sample lyric:
“The president, he’s got his war / Folks don’t know just what it’s for / Nobody gives us rhyme or reason / Have one doubt, they call it treason”
Protest message aside, “Compared to What” has solos by Benny Bailey and Eddie Harris that can lift you right out of your seat.
Les McCann, piano; Eddie Harris, tenor saxophone; Benny Bailey, trumpet; Leroy Vinnegar, bass; Donald Dean, drums.