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Article: Jazz Flutist Herbie Mann: Biography, Career, and Success.

Jazz Flutist Herbie Mann: Biography, Career, and Success. - MGLeatherWork

Jazz Flutist Herbie Mann: Biography, Career, and Success.

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Herbie Mann: Innovator of Jazz flute

An American jazz flutist Herbie Mann, who gained great popularity during the 1960s and 1970s, is known for working in various styles. In this article, we’re going to explore the biography, career, and achievements of this famous flute player.

Jazz Flutist Herbie Mann Biography, Career, and Success.

Herbie Mann’s Early Years

Herbie Mann was born in Brooklyn, New York, into the family of dancers and singers. He began his music journey from a clarinet at the age of nine, but very soon started playing a tenor saxophone and flute. Unlike many other musicians who had someone to learn from, Herbie had to develop his own approach to playing the jazz flute. There was no one to idolize, so he searched for inspiration within and outside the jazz genre. Herbie was especially enchanted by South American and Caribbean rhythms. His debut was with local bands, performing in the resorts of the Catskill Mountains.

He served four years in the army and even played a saxophone in a military band. When he finished his service, the jazz scene was flooded with saxophonists. At that time, Mat Matthews was searching for the flutist for jazz singer Carmen McRae’s album, so Herbie decided to not miss his chance.

Herbie Mann and Carmen McRae

Herbie Mann’s Career and Collaborations

He worked primarily in the bebop style, characterized by fast tempo and rapid chord and keys changes. However, Mann brought his own approach to it, as it was not interesting to him to play straight-ahead bebop. Therefore, he included non-jazz elements to his music, which made it sound more aggressive.

He was lucky to collaborate with an American jazz saxophonist, Phil Woods. Herbie entered the history of music as one of the first musicians who played fusion, intercultural and traditional music, also known as “world music”.

During 1953-1954, he played with Mat Mathews’ Quintet and then started recording as a leader.  He was also one of the few musicians of his time, who recorded on the bass clarinet. During 1954-1958, he collaborated with many musicians, including Buddy Collette, Sam Most, Bobby Jaspar, and Charlie Rouse.  In 1959, Herbie released the album “Flautista!” featuring Afro-Cuban jazz. He toured several countries and contributed to the popularization of bossa nova in the USA and Europe. 

Herbie Mann Afro Cuban Jazz MG Leather Work

In 1969, he released an album “Memphis Underground”, where he fused a few genres.  It was followed by other records, featuring blues-rock, reggae, funk, and disco. Jazz purists weren’t impressed, but it helped Herbie Mann to become an in-demand musician, when interest to jazz slightly declined.

During this experimental period, Herbie collaborated with the best-known singers, bassists and drummers. Some of them include Cissy Houston, Duane Allman, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Larry Coryell, Miroslav Vitous and others. During the 1970s and 1980s, he performed in nightclubs of New York City together with an Indian musician Vasant Rai, who played Indo-Afghan musical instrument sarod.

Herbie Mann collaborations

Herbie Mann’s Success and Role in Jazz

Herbie managed to create hits that captured leading positions in Billboard 200 pop charts, which was a rare case for a jazz musician.  He was the founder of his own label, Embryo Records, which produced albums for many famous musicians, including Ron Carter, Miroslav Vitous, Phil Woods, and Dick Morrissey.

Herbie Mann Legendary Flutist

Herbie Mann presented the world the innovative fusion of jazz with various global musical styles. He also expanded the boundaries of creativity with numerous cross-cultural collaborations.

Herbie Mann died at age 73, but he still inspires flutists as the musician who not only introduced the flute to the jazz genre but also became a pioneer in blending jazz with other musical styles.

Herbie Mann Flute Legend

Final Word

Herbie Mann entered the music history as an influential flute player, who has left a great legacy. If you want to learn more about other jazz musicians, don’t miss our articles about Dennis Brain, Ron Carter, Buddy Rich and others.

If you’re a flutist, check out our collection of flute accessories, where you can find high-quality flute bags, backpacks and wallets with embossed pictures.

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