Mann, Herbie (originally, Solomon, Herbert Jay)

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Mann, Herbie (originally, Solomon, Herbert Jay)

Mann, Herbie (originally, Solomon, Herbert Jay), flutist, bass clarinetist, tenor saxophonist; b. N.Y., April 16, 1930. Mann may have been the first jazz musician to succeed by playing the flute exclusively. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music. His flute playing is much more diatonic than typical modern jazz, perhaps to fit in with the Latin and modal world music contexts he so often uses. He has also pioneered the use of jazz with such unusual world musics as gagaku from Japan.

Mann began to specialize in flute and Latin music around 1959. With Doc Cheatham, he toured Africa, returning to N.Y. in April 1960. His touring band at the time included noted Latin musicians such as Patato Valdes. He began to investigate and record bossa-nova music in 1961 and had his first hit single and album in 1962.

Do the Bossa Nova, despite its title, was perhaps the first LP to feature an American jazz musician recorded in Brazil with Brazilian groups, including the Sergio Mendes band before they came to the U.S. His “Comin’Home Baby,” a simple riffing blues written by his bassist Ben Tucker, was his biggest hit of that era. He played in Brazil and Japan and regularly topped many listener/reader polls throughout the 1960s. His album Memphis Underground was a monster smash and an early jazz/rock/fusion document.

During the 1970s, Mann moved into reggae and disco, had his own label, and produced sessions by Ron Carter, Miroslav Vitous, and Attila Zoller, among others. Mann’s popularity waned in the 1980s, and he has never been a critical favorite. He has been living in N.Mex. since—and discovered in 1997 that he has inoperable prostate cancer.


Herbie Mann Plays (1954); Herbie Mann, Vol. 2 (1955); Herbie Mann in Sweden (1956); Et Tu Flute (1957); Flute Flight (1957); Flute Souffle (1957); Great Ideas of Western Mann (1957); Mann Alone (1957); Sultry Serenade (1957); Yardbird Suite (1957); Just Wailin’ (1958); African Suite (1959); Flautista (1959); Californians (1960); Common Ground (1960); Evolution of Mann (1960); Flute, Brass, Vibes and Percussion (1960); At the Village Gate (1961); Epitome of Jazz (1961); Family of Mann (1961); Monday Night at the Village Gate (1961); Nirvana (1961); Return to the Village Gate (1961); Brasil, Bossa Nova and Blue (1962); Do the Bossa Nova with Herbie Mann (1962); Latin Fever (1962); St. Thomas (1962); Herbie Mann Live at Newport (1963); My Kinda Groove (1964); Our Mann Flute (1964); Herbie Mann Today (1965); Latin Mann (1965); Standing Ovation at Newport (1965); & Tamiko Jones (1966); Big Band Mann (1966); Bongos, Conga and Flute (1966); Herbie Mann’s Big Band (1966); Impressions of the Middle East (1966); New Mann at Newport (1966); Afro Jazziac (1967); Wailing Dervishes (1967); Live at the Whisky (1968); Memphis Underground (1968); Windows Opened (1968); Concerto Grosso in D Blues (1970); Memphis Two Step (1970); Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty (1970); Stone Flute (1970); Push Push (1971); At Newport (1972); Brazil Blues (1972); Hold on I’m Coming (1972); London Underground (1973); Reggae (1974); Fzrsf Light: The Family of Mann (1975); Mann in Sweden (1975); Bmi in a Silver Cage (1976); Gagaku and Beyond (1976); Surprises (1976); Herbie Mann and Fire Island (1977); Herbie Mann with Joao Gilberto (1977); When Lights Are Low (1977); Brasil (1978); Herbie Mann and Jasil Brazz (1988); Caminho De Casa (1990); Peace Pieces (1995).

—Lewis Porter