Herbie Mann: Just Wailin' - JazzWax

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February 28, 2008


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Chris H

I've always loved Mann's "Push Push" w/ Duane Allman.

Alan Kaplinsky


While I generally agree with your comments about Herbie's career, I recommend the recording of his performance at the 1963 Newport Jazz Festival. I was there and, to this day, still remember him playing "Comin' Home Baby" with Ben Tucker on bass. He was swingin' that evening.



I've got to check out "Just Wailin'" but,as for Mann generally, still hard for me to get past that shirtless, sweaty picture of Herbie on "Push,Push"! That's a killer.

Red Colm O'Sullivan

I don't know if I can agree with his contribution to the Sarah Vaughan/Clifford Brown record being listed as amongst his better works: phrasing, intonation and sound are all quite cringe-making for me, and, I feel, it being such an important and famous record, managed to set back the noble and hip cause of jazz flute for ever... I really would have to use this record as a prime example, rather, of his deficincies. Sorry...
For me, and from this period, I would nominate that Bethlehem album with the much greater Sam Most (still playing great today), "The Mann With The Most", as the best Herbie Mann I know: real great record, with Most being quite miraculous, and Mann excelling on alto-flute here, obviously buoyed up and inspired (as well as welcomed into the flowing flute dialouge) by Most's fluidity of line and rhythmic mastery. Jesus it's a good record.
Apart from Most, James Moody (most obviously the greatest of them all), Frank Wess, Bobby Jasper, Tubby Hayes, Joe Farrell, Les Spann, Harold McNair, Bud Shank and James Clay were the guys for me. And the great Australian, Don Burrows. Of course, Hubert Laws' depth of tone and physical mastery are undeniable too.
I have been told, by the way, that Mr. Mann was a singularly classy and loved gentleman however.
Also: I'm always pleased to see how much you dig jazz flute, Marc: it's something you have in common with what I think of as the music's 3 greatest advocates for the instrument historically: Count Basie, Elvin Jones and Bill Evans. Milt Jackson also comes to mind as a flute fan (and, topically, Billy Taylor too). Good company you're in, Marc! And also, with that kind of advocacy, the flute is truly vindicated... (Although, and this is the problem: there are, and always have been, too many rotten flute players out there too, who persist with an unidiomatic approach with no real jazz vocabularly... maybe they come, for example, from the classical world and decide to try to "improvise"... That kind of thing has really set back the instrument's reputation and its cause...).

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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