Recorded in the great year of music and especially jazz -- 1957 -- Herbie Mann at the time was gaining momentum as a premier flute player, but was a very competent tenor saxophonist. Teamed here with the great alto saxophonist Phil Woods and criminally underrated vibraphonist Eddie Costa, Mann has found partners whose immense abilities and urbane mannerisms heighten his flights of fancy by leaps and bounds. Add to the mix the quite literate and intuitive guitarist Joe Puma, and you have the makings of an emotive, thoroughly professional ensemble. The legendary bass player Wilbur Ware, who in 1957 was shaking things up with the piano-less trio of Sonny Rollins and the group of Thelonious Monk, further enhances this grouping of virtuosos on the first two selections. Ware spins thick, sinuous cables of galvanized steel during the Mann penned swinger "Green Stamp Monsta!" with the front liners trading alert phrases, and into his down-home Chicago persona, strokes sly, sneaky blues outlines surrounding Mann's tenor and the alto of Woods in a lengthy jam "World Wide Boots." Bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Bobby Donaldson step in for the other six selections, with three originals by Puma set aside from the rest. "One for Tubby" (for Brit Tubby Hayes) has Mann's flute in a gentle tone as Woods and Costa chirp away while keeping the melody going. The midtempo bopper "Who Knew?" (P.S.; the phrase was coined long ago before its contemporary hipness) is shaded by Costa and deepened by the colorful saxes, and the excellent "Opicana," is a complex and dicey chart, showing the most inventive side of this group and Puma's fertile imagination. You also get the quintessential bop vehicle "Yardbird Suite" with the classic flute and vibes lead spurred on by the alto talkback of Woods. An early version of the enduring, neat and clean bop original "Squire's Parlor" from the book of Woods in inserted. Costa's "Here's That Mann," brims with swing and soul from the perfectly paired, harmonically balanced saxes, demonstrably delightful as the horns, especially the celebrated altoist, step up and out. This is not a complete reissue from the original Savoy LPs The Jazz We Heard Last Summer and Yardbird Suite. One wonders why more tracks could not be included as the CD clocks in at 50 1/2 minutes. As is, this is a solid document of all of the participants' burgeoning skills, and increasing cache as modern jazz masters.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos