Flutist Herbie Mann, who celebrates his 70th birthday on the closing night of his current Blue Note gig, is still the master of his instrument, now blending the Latin and Afro rhythms that have long been his trademark with middle European gypsy strains. Mann’s solos were characteristically pure of tone, sprightly and aggressive; he consistently makes an expressive and lyrical statement.
His new band, Sona Terra, which includes zimbulim — a percussive string instrument of the dulcimer family — and accordion, draws on musical ideas from Mann’s family ancestry, rooted in Romania, Hungary and Russia. “Balalaika Love Song,” which Mann penned 28 years ago, featured an introduction by Alexander Federouk on the zimbulim, adding an alluring Continental flavor. The blend with Mann’s dancing flute projected distinct tuneful imagery of goulash and candlelight.
Accordionist Gil Goldstein plays with a spirited attack and on his own composition, “Sera,” swings with a gentle yet sweeping intensity. The union of Goldstein and Mann produce a comfortably sustained sound — melodically pure and fresh.
Not forgetting his early jazz roots, Mann turned to the Charlie Parker legacy for the bop classic “Au Privave” and again demonstrated the genre’s swinging essence.
Mann paired with guitarist Romero Lubambo for exotic turns on “Amazon River” and “Atraz da Porta.” Pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano and Lumbado joined Mann and his group for an arresting finale with Ivan Lins’ “Leva e Traz.”