Another example of Herbie Mann's quest for new playing environments leading him to follow another trend, in this case the disco music coming out of Germany in the mid-to-late seventies. Co-producer and arranger Sylvester Levay had been behind the dance-floor success of Silver Convention, including their big hit, "Fly, Robin, Fly," and was involved with the German electronic and techno genres. On Bird in a Silver Cage, he surrounds Mann with a string ensemble from the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, provides an insistent disco beat, tacks on some inane background vocals and lets the flute master fly over top. This works fine on the title track and on "Birdwalk," a classic of the Mann repertoire of this era, but "Aria" is awful, and "The Piper" is a piece of generic disco in search of John Travolta and the spinning mirror ball. ~ Jim Newsom
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