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Herbie Mann: Peace Pieces — The Music of Bill Evans

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Mann has covered a lot of musical ground over the years-from straightahead to jazz-rock to disco to Latin. These releases reflect two elements he has been long associated with, namely the music of his old friend Bill Evans and the rich sounds of Brazil.

Recorded in mid 1995, Peace Pieces features Evans stalwart Eddie Gomez on bass, as well as Randy Brecker on fluegelhorn, Sammy Figueroa on percussion, Bruce Dunlap on guitar, and Louis Nash on drums. And while all of the compositions fittingly are Evans’ own, Mann wisely avoids comparisons by using guitar instead of piano. “Peri’s Scope,” which opens with some articulate brush work by Nash, recalls Evans’ light but solid sense of swing; here, though, guitar supplies harmonies while flute lithely plays the melodic role. Another good example of the guitar/flute pairing is the ballad “Turn Out The Stars,” which begins with a nice rubato opening on six-string and receives a lyrically sensitive treatment by Mann. The tribute concludes with “Peace Peace;” originally improvised by Evans, here it receives an ironic, well thought out multiple flute arrangement that evolves into a delicate ensemble piece.

With its cast of over 20 musicians, including multiple percussionists, America/Brasil is as vibrant as the musical cultures it represents. Recorded live, the expertly arranged performances leave plenty of blowing space. Throughout, Mann leads the way, playing aggressively on “Keep The Spirits Singing,” solid and bluesy on “Summertime” and down and grooving on “All Blues.” Other highlights include “Peri’s Scope,” whose approach and instrumentation significantly differ from the aforementioned version, and “Baghdad/Candle Dance,” a brief but adventurous number with flute, percussion, and bass that explores an adventurous Middle Eastern theme.

Two contrasting settings and projects that showcase the versatility and many facets of one of jazz’s most distinctive flutists.