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Memphis Underground

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iTunes Review

Herbie Mann was one of jazz's most wildly eclectic artists, a fact borne out by a dazzlingly prolific recording career encompassing everything from bossa nova to funk. Smack in the middle of Southern soul's heyday, Mann seized the moment, bringing his band to the legendary Memphis soul hothouse American Studios to cut a batch of hard-grooving R&B tunes for 1969's Memphis Underground with legendary Stax/Atlantic producer Tom Dowd and a Memphis rhythm section. On the Mann-penned title track, jazz and R&B meet atop a subtly skanking ska-flavored feel. The Sam & Dave hit "Hold On, I'm Comin'" starts like a soul-jazz dance party before famously fearless guitar man Sonny Sharrock unleashes a thrilling avant-garde onslaught. Similarly, Mann and company's version of the Aretha Franklin smash "Chain of Fools" sets up a seductively simmering groove gradually subverted by growling guitars, Roy Ayers' free-wheeling vibes, and ultimately the leader's own lupine flute licks. It makes for a soul-jazz stew with some serious sting.

Customer Reviews

The Mann

Herbie, what can I say. Memphis Underground was the first jazz album I heard as a child. It is still the coolest and funkiest, Herbie told me 2 things before he passed and the last time I saw him in New York, "Live every day like it is your last" and "Just do your thing, don't let anyone tell you can't". Just passing them along to all of you and the universe. Love you, Mann.

A classic

I don't own many jazz albums but this is one of my all-time favourites. Not a weak track in sight (take note, iTunes reviewer). The versions of the Sam & Dave and Aretha Franklin songs couldn't be better. Try this with while working out - Memphis Underground for the warm-up, New Orleans starts the vigorous part of your exercise and after about 20 minutes you can cool down with Battle Hymn Of The Republic. Absolutely great!

Great album. To be clear, not a Jazz album

This record really shook things up in the Jazz world because this is a jazz artist basically doing an instrumental rock album. IYou can't exactly call it fusion but the guitars are distorted and psychedelic sounding at times. The themes are more pop than anything else but the only thing that connects this to jazz in any way is some improvisation. Picture Steve Cropper dong an instrumental album and blending soul. pop and a slightly heavy rock sound and that's about what this sounds like. With that said, I think this album is fantastic! I love both Jazz and rock.


Born: April 16, 1930 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Herbie Mann played a wide variety of music throughout his career. He became quite popular in the 1960s, but in the '70s became so immersed in pop and various types of world music that he seemed lost to jazz. However, Mann never lost his ability to improvise creatively as his later recordings attest. Herbie Mann began on clarinet when he was nine but was soon also playing flute and tenor. After serving in the Army, he was with Mat Mathews' Quintet (1953-1954) and then started working and recording...
Full Bio
Memphis Underground, Herbie Mann
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Crossover Jazz
  • Released: 1969

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