Do The Bossa Nova
1962 Atlantic 1397
Before bossa nova became the semiotic index for the synthetic happiness of mass consumer culture and alienation (and long before it was featured in the supermarkets and the Commander’s dinner parties in the current adaptation of A Handmaid’s Tale), bossa nova was associated with the cool and cosmopolitan, with goatee-sporting hep cats like Herbie Mann. For this record, he went to Rio and actually recorded with a bunch of the leading lights of the movement, which sets this apart from a lot of the contemporary North American jazz-bossa crossovers of the time. The personnel includes Baden Powell, Paulo Moura, Tom Jobim, and Sérgio Mendes. A fun version of Clifford Brown’s ‘Blues Walk’ gives it a Brazilian twist.
I know there are quite a few people waiting for me to finish up the Marcos Valle series, but I’ve been rather busy lately. But a whole week without a blog post is just unconscionable, so here’s a quick one (while he’s away).
Herbie Mann still doesn’t get enough credit for his role in helping spread the seeds of musical cross-fertilization between the US and Brazil, nor for the amount of great players that passed through the ranks of his various ensembles. My explanation for this lack of respect hinges on the fact that by the late sixties Herbie would become obsessed with taking his shirt off for every photo op, bearing his hairy pectorals while blowing madly on his flute. And also committing the venial jazz sin of flirting too much with commercialism for the jazz critics, embracing soul, R&B, funk, rock, and disco at one time or another.
This is a very fine set of music from Herbie with his shirt still on, and a lineup that boasts Dave Pike, Willie Bobo and Patato Valdez. From Bennie Goodman to Luis Bonfa, there really isn’t a dull moment. And a ripping bossa-bop treatment of “Desafinado” is all on its own enough to make this record worth having. The solos from Herbie and Dave Pike are a world apart from the many sleepier, starchier American jazz appropriations of bossa nova’s own appropriations of American jazz. It’s as if the original Jobim/Mendonça song had a zipper, and Herbie Mann pulled the zipper all the way down, pushed the fabric inside out, stuffed it with a simulacrum of Dizzy Gillespie, pulled the zipper back up, and gave it to us all on Christmas day. Just like if you go far enough to the east you end up in the west eventually, bossa nova’s whitening of samba is baptized into Black American music and Latin Jazz by a Jew from Brooklyn.
Oh, and lots of folks are fond of pointing out that this live version of `Garota de Ipanema` (The Girl from Ipanema)was actually recorded before the Getz/Giblerto version had been released (although that version *had* been recorded by the time of the concert). Pretty cool, eh?
Elsewhere, Willie Bobo and Patato tear it up on the timbales and congas. Like they always do. I hope this whets your appetite for more from the family of Mann as I have quite a bit I’ve been meaning to share someday (including the oddball albums with Sonny Sharrock and Roy Ayers). This 2001 reissue on Wounded Bird has pretty decent sound too.
Herbie Mann – Live at the Whisky A Go Go
1969, Atlantic SD 1536
Bass – Miroslav Vitous
Drums – Bruno Carr
Flute – Herbie Mann
Guitar – Sonny Sharrock
Tenor Saxophone – Steve Marcus
Vibraphone – Roy Ayers
Recording Engineer – Bill Halverson
Produced by Nesuhi Ertegun
01 Ooh Baby (15:05)
02 Philly Dog (14:04)
Oh my Lordie is this record a slab of righteous funky soul jazz. With Roy Ayers and Sonny Sharrock in the lineup, how can you go wrong? Although they had been with Herbie for a while by now in variations of this lineup, this record is quite a few shades funkier than earlier efforts like Windows Opened. It’s comprised of only two long tracks on each side, with crisp engineering and production by the Atlantic team of Bill Halverson and Sr. Ertegun. The first tune is a mid-tempo sizzler, electric bass from Miroslav Vitous locking in nicely with drummer Bruno Carr, and some understated percussion work from Herbie when he’s not riffing on flute. There’s plenty of room for all the soloists to stretch out on this one, although Sharrock restrains himself to chugging along in a loose but tasty two-chord rhythm part. He lets loose his free-jazz guitar on the next track, however — the upbeat ‘Philly Dog,’ a tune written by Rufus Thomas and famously recorded by the Mar-Kays a few years earlier. Their version tops out around 3 minutes; this one stretches out about ten minutes longer than that. While Sonny Sharrock’s own work over the next few decades is undoubtedly more challenging and avant-garde than anything he recorded with Herbie Mann, I have to say I really, really enjoy his bursts of madness over the organic and tuneful funk grooves of the records they made together, when he comes blasting in like a furnace. Roy Ayers is, well, Roy Ayers, and makes the addition of anyone on keys to this live setting completely unnecessary. I tend to feel that Herbie Mann has been underappreciated in general – written-off by jazz purists early in his career as a sell-out, and often passed over by crate diggers in search of more obscure beats. He was definitely on a roll in 1969, with the amazing Memphis Underground LP also coming out that year.
TECHNICAL INFO: Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable / Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge / Pro-Ject Speedbox power supply -> Creek OBH-18 MM Phono Preamp -> M-Audio Audiophile 2496 soundcard. Recorded at 24-bit / 96 khz resolution to Audacity. Click Repair on very light settings to remove some clicks and pops. Track splitting in Adobe Audition 3.0. Dithered to 16-bit using iZotope M-Bit noise-shaping. Converted to FLAC and mp3 using DbPoweramp. ID tags done with Foobar2000.
This is one of many vinyl rips I hope to share here in the future. I’m restarting vinyl rips with this title, because I am basically lazy and it was a quick one (short album, only two tracks..). ENJOY!!
Herbie Mann – Live at the Whisky A Go Go (1969) in 320kbs
Herbie Mann – Live at the Whisky A Go Go (1969) in FLAC LOSSLESS