Herbie Mann’s Californians, (Fresh Sound). This compilation reissue contains all of the Riverside album called Great Ideas Of Western Mann plus tracks from Riverside’s Blues For Tomorrow and Verve’s The Golden Flute Of Herbie Mann. In all cases, Jimmy Rowles is on piano, with Buddy Clark on bass and Mel Lewis on drums. For the rhythm section alone, this would be a desirable CD, but Mann’s bass clarinet and Jack Sheldon’s trumpet work on seven of the pieces make it an essential example of all hands’ best work of the late 1950s. On the four remaining tracks, Mann plays flute with his customary jauntiness, but it’s those bass clarinet solos and the instrument’s blend with Sheldon’s horn that stay in the mind. Mann’s conception is hardly generic, but it is orthodox bebop. In Rowles and Sheldon, however, we hear two of the great eccentrics among improvisers of any era, departing from the trodden path and detonating little surprises.
Bob Godfrey says
I thought Al Jolson’s version of “Is It True What They Say About Dixie” was great, but it pales in comparison to the Mann-Sheldon-Rowles interpretation.