Personnel: Herbie Mann (flute); Bill Evans (piano); Chuck Israel (bass); Paul Motian (drums).
It is surprising that this obscure session featuring Herbie Mann with the Bill Evans Trio (making its first recordings following the sudden death of bassist Scott LaFaro just a short time after the trio's landmark gig at the Village Vanguard) only reappeared on LP during the initial wave of CD reissues during the 1980s, but it is available once again nearly 40 years after it was completed. Mann, who has changed his style numerous times throughout his long career, is heard exclusively in a straight-ahead and bop context on this pair of studio dates. Evans, who studied flute through his college years, rarely recorded with a flutist (Jeremy Steig joined him on a later record for Verve), though he was fond of the instrument; the capable Chuck Israels on bass and drummer Paul Motian round out the trio. The low-key "Willow Weep for Me" and impressionist composer Erik Satie's Gymnopedie bring out the lyricism of Mann's playing, though the trio's backing is very understated. Things open up a bit with a sparkling take of Cole Porter's "I Love You." Mann's two originals, "Nirvana" and "Cashmere," aren't quite as memorable; substituting one of Evans' compositions for either of them might have provided some additional spark. Fans of either Herbie Mann or Bill Evans will want to acquire this enjoyable CD. ~ Ken Dryden