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Herbie Mann: 65th Birthday Celebration: Live at the Blue Note in New York City

Mann popularized the flute in jazz. He played Latin, bossa nova, bebop, blues, funk, soul, disco and world music, all without losing his integrity. In each genre, he found the groove and made his flute dance on top. He hired hip bands and let them stretch out. In this album, recorded during a week-long celebration in April, 1995, he revisits some of the genres and grooves, assisted by 31 guests of past and present sidemen.

Mann is in sunny form throughout. He paces himself well, doesn’t get rattled when superior technicians arrive and doesn’t leave any loose ends. On percussion-loaded Latin tunes such as “Sonhos” and “Jungle Fantasy,” he shows the kind of rhythmic interplay that set the stage for the career of Dave Valentine (whose flute is heard on “Jungle Fantasy”) and others. The heat continues with superb solos from trumpeters Claudio Roditi and Randy Brecker on “Give And Take” and “Dippermouth.” The funky sound of Mann’s “Memphis Underground” is here, too.

Various ensembles appear on various tracks. The music sounds well rehearsed (or at least not sloppy and meandering). This is certainly a fitting tribute to and from Mann.

Originally Published