Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Herbie Mann, who is appearing at Blues Alley through Saturday, has been one of the most popular jazz flutists for about as long as there have been prominent jazz flutists. Since the mid-'50s, when Mann and others brought the instrument to prominence, Mann has been the most consistently successful soloist in the idiom, though his popularity is not what it was 10 years ago.
Mann is not a top-rank jazz improviser, but he has execellent command of his instruments and a knack for assembling good bands. Former Mann sideman include such leading lights as Chick Corea and Roy Ayers. Most important, the flutist has been a shrewd judge of commercial trends, combining jazz with music ranging from Latin to Middle Eastern to Japanese to disco.
Most of Mann's music has been catchy and enjoyable, if not particularly profound. His new sextet continues that policy, combining Brazilian and funk elements in an unpretentious manner. The band, composed of young, talented unknowns, is reminiscent of Man's Latin-flavored groups of the mid-60s.
Its dominant characteristic is a relaxed, team-oriented approach to the simple, loosely structured music Mann currently favors. Considering the gauche gimmickry that abounds in commercial jazz these days, the Mann group's modesty deserves a salute.
They do make use of electronics, however, by use of echo and delayed-tape loop. Mann and his gifted frontline partner, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, employ them to good effect, producing a dreamy ensemble sound.