Flautists are the 98 pound weaklings in the jazz musician crowd, constantly working hard to prove that their chosen instrument has serious jazz credentials. Herbie Mann and Bobby Jaspar were two of the few who made the flute their primary instrument, and both had their moments, Mann as a leader and Jaspar with JJ Johnson. However, Flute Flight, a pairing of the two originally recorded in 1957, never gets off the ground. Before this recording Mann had been successful at presenting some serious jazz chops that aspired to a kind of baroque hipness. Here he and Jaspar are overwhelmed by the other instrumentation when a more restrained approach is clearly needed.
Mann’s earlier records were largely successful, since the pairing of flute and guitar without piano blended so nicely together; here Flanagan and the rhythm section seem determined to crowd him out of the room. Jaspar is a virtually unknown flautist who joins Mann on the first two numbers; on the rest of the CD Mann is absent and the lead spot is occupied by Jaspar and Eddie Costa on vibes. Somewhat better, but these selections still don’t generate any heat. For a better example of flute-based jazz, seek out Mann’s superb Bethlehem recordings and skip this one.
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