Jazz April Birthday: Herbie Mann

Herbie Mann 1930-2003. AP file photo

Written by Robin Lloyd

Herbie Mann was among the first jazz musicians to specialize on the flute and was jazz music’s preeminent flautist during the 1960s, an early pioneer of the fusion of jazz and world music.

When Mann began playing flute in 1940s, there weren’t many jazz flautists to learn from, no pioneers of jazz flute to idolize. He was forced to look elsewhere — both inside and outside of jazz — to develop his approach.  Mann was particularly drawn to rhythms and melodies from South America and the Caribbean, as well as the Middle East.  His pursuit of  the groove led to his popular R&B recordings, like “Memphis Underground.”

“It became quite simple for me to go and look at different parts of the world. Every civilization had flute in their music, except American.”  –Herbie Mann


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