Picks and Pans Review: Astral Island

updated 08/08/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/08/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Herbie Mann

Mann has always had a tendency to change styles according to the currently prevailing musical environment. It wouldn't have been too surprising to see him turn up with a Mohawk haircut and a safety pin in his ear during the hot punk era, or maybe work up one of those blankly staring New Music poses. This album, though, reverts to what was probably his most musically satisfying period, in the Latinized post-bossa nova days of the '60s. It even includes his old standby tune Push, Push, re-invigorated with some trombone help from Tom Malone. Despite the pleasant memories it arouses, though, this is a strangely lifeless set. Mann seems to have his mind on something else; there is very little of the sharp spirit and momentum he can generate with his flute in his best moments. He may be a little tired of recording—he's made more than 50 albums in the last 23 years—but that would seem to be reason for a respite of some kind, not a walk-through like this.

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