Herbie Mann

I know nothing about Herbie Mann as a human being. I know only his music.

His recordings tell me nothing about his family, personal temperament, or worldview. They inform me only of his skills as a musician — his ability to improvise and perform in sync with other musicians, his ability to remain true to the harmonic progressions that underscored his solos and the syncopated rhythms that propelled him forward. The recordings tell me nothing about whether he was a great guy or a rascal, and I don’t really care. His music makes me smile, and that's enough.

Herbie Mann died in 2003 at his home in Pecos, NM. His music has brought me great joy over the years, and I still mourn his loss.

Bless you, Herbie Mann. Whether you were a saint, a demon, or just a regular guy, may you rest in peace. As a jazz musician, you were, for this former flute player, a demigod.

The Family of Mann performing “Memphis Underground,” 1982


Newport Jazz Festival, 1989