Cultural Percussionist

Les Spann Day

Leslie Spann Jr. (May 23, 1932 – January 24, 1989) was an American jazz guitarist and flautist.

Les Spann was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. From 1950–1957, he studied music at Tennessee State University. At the end of that time he worked with Phineas Newborn Jr. and in 1958 with Ronnell Bright. The following year, he joined a quintet in New York City led by Dizzy Gillespie, performing solos on flute and guitar and appearing on two of Gillespie’s albums for Verve Records. After a year with Gillespie, he went to Europe as a member of Quincy Jones‘s big band. Two more albums followed, this time with Spann joining a sextet that included Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges, and Harry “Sweets” Edison. He recorded with Hodges again in 1967, then disappeared from the music world. He died in New York City in 1989.

As a sideman he recorded with Nat Adderley, Benny Bailey, Bill Coleman, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Curtis Fuller, Red Garland, Benny Goodman, Sam Jones, Abbey Lincoln, Charles Mingus, Duke Pearson, Jerome Richardson, Charlie Shavers, Sonny Stitt, Billy Taylor, Randy Weston, and Ben Webster. As a leader he recorded only once, the album Gemini in 1960.

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