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Bennie Maupin - The Jewel in the Lotus CD (album) cover


Bennie Maupin


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.26 | 23 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

As Maupin was one of the indispensable ingredients for Miles' and Hancock's Jazz Rock adventures with his bass clarinet layers, offering much sonic space and possibilities in the treble end of the spectrum. First noticed in Miles' BB album, Hancock enticed Maupin into his Mwandishi group where he stayed for the duration of the line-up, three albums including the fabulous Crossing and the stupendous Sextant. Indeed much of the magic of BB, Crossing and Sextant comes from Maupin's discreet but absolutely essential interventions with his bass clarinet.

So when he started his own solo career, you'd have expected him to carry on in that direction, but this debut album is released on the ECM label, he's definitely not exploring that alley at all, even if Hancock, Williams, Hart and Summers all played with him in the Mwandishi trilogy While I wouldn't say that the music is light years away from Sextant, it is definitely less structured and more dissonant and improvised. We're not into free jazz either, nor are there blatant improvisation, and the music is sufficiently structured to have been entirely written. Hancock's electric piano and Williams' bowed bass drones provide the perfect tapestry to allow Maupin to intervene at will, since he's the only wind man on the album outside Sullivan's trumpet on two of the eight tracks .also of interest is the two drummers playing together but each in his own stereo channel. If the first side is still relatively lively, the B-side is quite amorphous, if you'll except the odd burst of energy.

Actually I find this album a tad too experimental for the ECM label because of its reputation of being a soft or cool jazz-fusion specialist label, but overall it just happens to be one of the label's better releases along with the first Return To Forever

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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