In 1997, Mann was diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer, yet his recovery is moving forward with positive results. There's no stopping his drive and commitment, evidenced by his Jazz Fest "reunion" performance with fellow jazz legends guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Chuck Rainey and saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman. Moreover, New Orleans pianist Willie Tee and drummer Ricky Sebastian will be anchoring the rhythmic element, injecting a New Orleans groove into the band's playlist. For the record, Coryell performed and recorded with Mann on 1969's R&B-drenched Memphis Underground and 1970's Memphis Two-Step LPs. Newman's tenure with Mann began back in the '70s, extending into the '90s, and Rainey's sinewy bass lines graced Mann's 1971 LP Push Push and the soul-jazz of 1992's Deep Pocket.
That shared history promises a celebratory reunion rekindling memories of past collaborations, complemented with a continued desire to move forward. Mann, for example, is currently sequencing a recording featuring Eastern European musicians, and has upcoming dates with various Latin ensembles. His wandering musical spirit will be right at home at Jazz Fest. Says Mann, "New Orleans wanted funky music, and if that's what the crowd wants, I try to please them."