Mark Weinstein, flute – Straight No Chaser – *****

I’ve long been a pushover for jazz flute, so reading in this CD’s notes that the flute has largely replaced the clarinet as the main doubling instrument for saxists really caught my eye. Mark Weinstein was originally a trombonist and heavily involved in Latin jazz in the 60s, but like a number of jazz musicians he eventually became disillusioned with the music business and went into other pursuits.

Now he’s back and has so far released 14 varied recordings involving the flute – many of them in the Cuban jazz tradition. This one, however, is straight ahead jazz. He plays several different kinds of flutes and sees himself as following the path that the great Herbie Mann took, specialize in the flute. (The liner note writer is author of a book titled The Flute in Jazz: Window on World Music.)

The imaginative and creative lines played by Weinstein on these ten tracks show that he is a specialist in the flute – not just a musician who picks it up once in a while. He has a lot of little melodic twists that add interest and contribute to the rhythmic propulsion. He plays the album’s title tune by Monk on the bass flute – I’ve always liked the rich sound of that instrument, and Weinstein plays it beautifully. Other jazz classics here come from Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter and Matt Dennis, plus three Weinstein originals. The combination of flute and guitar is a good one, which works just as well in jazz as it does in classical and ethnic music.

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