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HERBIE MANN (born Herbert Jay Solomon) was one of Jazz music s most prolific performers and innovators excelling predominantly on flute, but also tenor saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet. Throughout the 50 s and 60 s Mann played in many groups exploring the boundaries of Jazz In the 70 s Mann extended his repertoire further by incorporating rock, pop, reggae and disco into his sound, which included this 1975 offering on Atlantic Records, DISCOTHEQUE. The album boasts a number of great jazzy grooves that show off Mann s incredible dexterity on the flute and employs his vast experience to its full extent. DISCOTHEQUE was received very well in Jazz, R&B, Pop and Disco markets on its release achieving #5, #19 and #27 on the Billboard Jazz, R&B and Pop album charts respectively. The albums one and only single was an instrumental cover of Hi-Jack, which was originally recorded by Latin influenced Funk group Barrabas in 1974, and again confirmed the wide appeal that Mann enjoyed as it charted at #14 Pop, #24 R&B and an incredible #1 on Billboards Disco Action chart as the track lit up dance floors across the USA. Other notable tracks are the self-penned High Above The Andes, and a gorgeous rendition of Stevie Wonders Bird Of Beauty. This edition also features the non-album B-side Orient Express and the original unedited version of Hi-Jack
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High Jack opens Discotheque with vocals by the trio "The Highjackers". This trio featured noted gospel singer Cissy Houston who Herbie showcased the following year on his exceptional album Surprises featuring Cissy Houston. She is also, of course, Whitney's mom. Herbie does a nice job of covering The Carpenter's hit I Won't Last A Day Without You complete with backing trombones on the chorus. One of my favorite tunes on the album is High Above The Andes. Once again there are backing trombones and the album's kickin' rhythm section includes drummer Steve Gadd, percussionist Ralph Macdonald, bassist Tony Levin and keyboardist Pat Rebillot.
I guess the reason I rate Turtle Bay a little higher is that each song is great. For instance he does a funky, albeit too short version of Becker & Fagan's Do It Again. I mean, how many flutists would take on Steely Dan and get away with it? From there we go right into the absolutely joyous Now I've Found A Lady. Where on Discotheque the instrumental back up was provided by horns, on Turtle Bay, and especially this particular tune, just the right amount of strings are added. The next tune, Stevie Wonder's Happier Than The Morning Sun features Herbie on the longer, warmer alto flute. This song is so beautiful I get chills listening to it, even after all these years.
I could go on but suffice it say, this is a great double CD. Get it and enjoy the funky one with a flute.