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Friends and Colleagues to Pay Tribute to Path Making Flutist Herbie Mann

SOURCE: Published: 2003-10-26


Legendary flutist Herbie Mann who passed away on July 1, 2003 will be honored at a gathering of friends and colleagues from New Yorks Latin and jazz communities in a gala celebration of his life and music Tuesday, November 11 at Blue Note, located at 133 West 3rd Street in New York City beginning at 8:00 pm. Special guests participating in this grand tribute produced by impresario Charles Carlini include Ray Barretto, Patato Valdes, Dave Valentin, Andrea Brachfeld, Bobby Sanabria, Lew Tabackin, Buddy Williams, Lou Volpe, Trio Da Paz, Claudio Roditi and Paquito DRivera.

Herbie Mann, credited as being one of the seminal jazz flutists, is probably best known for the musical odyssey that has taken him around the world. Long before the concept “world music" was coined, he was exploring the rhythms and harmonies of Africa, India, Cuba, Jamaica, the Middle East and Japan. But the country whose music has most influenced his playing and most touched his heart is Brazil.

Herbie was born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 16, 1930, as Herbert Jay Solomon. His mother encouraged Manns musical development by taking him to a Benny Goodman concert at the Paramount when he was nine years old. Mann started playing the clarinet soon after and later turned to the tenor saxophone, and eventually to the instrument with which he was identified, the flute. By the time Mann was fourteen, he was playing tenor sax at gigs in the Catskills. In 1948 he entered the US Army where he spent nearly four years in Trieste, Italy, playing with the 98th Army Band. Mann returned to New York after the army, but found it difficult to stand out as a tenor saxophonist. But when accordionist Mat Matthews told Mann that he was looking for a jazz flute player for the first album by the then unknown Carmen McRae, Mann quickly taught himself the flute and recorded with McRae. In 1958, legendary jazz DJ Symphony Sid Torin suggested that Mann add a conga player to his group, which quickly boosted Manns popularity. Percussionists who played with him in the late 1950s and early 1960 have included Candido, Ray Barretto, Baba Olatunji, Patato Valdes, Ray Mantilla and Willie Bobo.

In 1961, Mann joined a tour of American musicians going to Brazil, introducing him to more complex melodies and rhythms. Mann then made an extended visit to Brazil to record his next album for Atlantic Records, during which he met talents such as Sergio Mendes, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Baden Powell. Mann brought the sounds of world music to his recordings before the term was even used, and was a pioneer of fusion, with his 1969 album Memphis Underground, and his 1970s group Family of Mann.

Mann continued to record throughout his career, but his dabbling in pop, rock, reggae, and disco during the 1970s, and a move away from the sounds that had made him popular, led to the end of his 20-year contract with Atlantic. In the ensuing years, Mann recorded for several independent labels, including two albums on the Lightyear label from a 1995 celebration of his 65th birthday. Celebration and America Brasil feature many of his longtime friends and musical partners from his past, including David Fathead Newman, Dave Valentin, Ron Carter, Billy Taylor, Tito Puente, Randy Brecker, Claudio Roditi, and others.

Manns last live performance was May 3 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Mann was Downbeats flutist of the year for 13 years straight, beginning in the late 1950s. In 1997, Herbie was diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer. Mann formed a nonprofit foundation called Herbie Manns Prostate Cancer Awareness Music Foundation that used performances and recordings to help spread the word about the disease. A portion of the proceeds from the Tribute will be donated to Mann's Foundation.

For more information on the Herbie Mann tribute at Blue Note on November 11, contact Charles Carlini of Carlini Group at (212) 714-7722 or to make reservations call Blue Note at (212) 475-0049.


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