The Evolution of Mann
More than any other musician, Herbie Mann was responsible for establishing the flute as an accepted jazz instrument. Prior to his arrival, the flute was a secondary instrument for saxophonists, but Mann found a unique voice for the flute, presenting it in different musical contexts, beginning with Afro-Cuban, and then continuing with music from Brazil, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Japan, and Eastern Europe. As Mann once said, People would say to me, 'I don't know where you are right now,' and I would respond, 'And you're not going to know where I'm going to be tomorrow.' A self-described restless spirit, Herbie Mann also was a master at marketing himself. His insatiable curiosity about the world led him to experiment with different kinds of sounds, becoming a virtual Pied Piper of jazz. He attracted thousands to his concerts while alienating purists and critics alike. His career lasted for five decades, from his beginnings in a tiny Brooklyn nightclub to appearances on international stages. I want to be as synonymous with the flute as Benny Goodman is for the clarinet, he was fond of saying. By the time he died of prostate cancer in 2003, he had fulfilled his desire.