Les McCann plays to the rhythm of life

The Artistry of… Les McCann

Cy Coleman’s tune The Rhythm of Life, with lyrics by Dorothy Field, is a very groovy part of the musical Sweet Charity, the screenplay by Peter Stone adapted from the stage show and book by Neil Simon. The lyrics are as catchy as the Bob Fosse-choreographed dancing, and Coleman’s music is electric, as performed by the late Sammy Davis Jr. as Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck.

The rhythm of life is a powerful beat,
Puts a tingle in your fingers and a tingle in your feet,
Rhythm in your bedroom, rhythm in the street,
Yes, the rhythm of life is a powerful beat.

Music is the message of the great Les McCann. It’s so very much like that very groovy beat of the street in The Rhythm of Life.

McCann’s music comes from the soul. That is where the storytelling begins. That is where life’s beats are so artistically exposed. It is loud and clear for all to hear. It’s a truly funky kind of poetic wash that moves you and teases your thoughts. The message speaks of its time, and the bittersweet irony is that it speaks just as loudly in this time.

Les McCann’s music is the rhythm of life. The message is in the music. His soul speaks the rhythm of the street.


The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.


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