Fusion / Post-Fusion Contemporary / Third Stream / Post Bop / Avant-Garde Jazz • United States
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Bennie Maupin is best known for his atmospheric bass clarinet playing on Miles Davis' classic “Bitches Brew” album, as well as other Miles Davis recordings such as, “Big Fun” “Jack Johnson,” and “On the Corner.” He was a founding member of Herbie Hancock’s seminal band The Headhunters, as well as a performer and composer in Hancock’s influential Mwandishi band. Born in 1940, Maupin started playing clarinet, later adding saxophone, flute and, most notably, the bass clarinet to his formidable arsenal of woodwind instruments. Upon moving to New York in 1962, he freelanced with groups led by Marion Brown, Pharoah Saunders, and Chick Corea, and played regularly with Roy Haynes and Horace Silver. He also recorded with McCoy Tyner, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Jack DeJohnette, Andrew Hill, Eddie Henderson, and Woody Shaw to name only a few. Maupin’s own discography as a leader includes a well-received recording for ECM Records, “The read more...
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BENNIE MAUPIN albums / top albums

BENNIE MAUPIN The Jewel in the Lotus album cover 4.27 | 8 ratings
The Jewel in the Lotus
Fusion 1974
BENNIE MAUPIN Slow Traffic to the Right album cover 3.55 | 5 ratings
Slow Traffic to the Right
Fusion 1977
BENNIE MAUPIN Moonscapes album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Fusion 1978
BENNIE MAUPIN Driving While Black (with Dr. Patrick Gleeson) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Driving While Black (with Dr. Patrick Gleeson)
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1998
BENNIE MAUPIN The Bennie Maupin Ensemble : Penumbra album cover 4.52 | 2 ratings
The Bennie Maupin Ensemble : Penumbra
Avant-Garde Jazz 2006
BENNIE MAUPIN Early Reflections album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Early Reflections
Post-Fusion Contemporary 2008
BENNIE MAUPIN Bennie Maupin & Adam Rudolph : Symphonic Tone Poem for Brother Yusef album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Bennie Maupin & Adam Rudolph : Symphonic Tone Poem for Brother Yusef
Third Stream 2022


BENNIE MAUPIN live albums

BENNIE MAUPIN The Maupin/Williams Project : Live At Club Rhapsody Okinawa album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Maupin/Williams Project : Live At Club Rhapsody Okinawa
Post Bop 2002

BENNIE MAUPIN demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

BENNIE MAUPIN re-issues & compilations

BENNIE MAUPIN Slow Traffic to the Right & Moonscapes album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Slow Traffic to the Right & Moonscapes
Fusion 2011

BENNIE MAUPIN singles (0)

BENNIE MAUPIN movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)


BENNIE MAUPIN The Bennie Maupin Ensemble : Penumbra

Album · 2006 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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Multi-reedist Bennie Maupin made his name playing on Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew", and later being a member of Herbie Hancock's funky Headhunters. His moment of real glory is still "The Jewel in the Lotus"(1974) - Maupin's debut as a leader and one of the very best jazz fusion albums ever recorded. In 1977 he released "Slow Traffic To The Right" - strong fusion album, recorded in a key of its predecessor, another year later - less successful, "Moonscapes". Than Maupin stayed in silence for twenty years, returning for " Driving While Black..."(1998), and for the upcoming quarter of the century he released only four more albums. But Bennie was still more active as a collaborator on other artists releases.

Having a cult status among fans of early fusion, Maupin's extremely rare more current albums didn't attract a lot of attention, and in the case of "Penumbra", it's a real shame. Released on the avant-garde jazz label, Cryptogramophone, and recorded in California, this album contains an excellent incarnation of Maupin's music, in a new key and with a new band. Maupin predominantly plays bass clarinet and tenor sax here, the band contains excellent Polish bassist Darek Oles, LA-based veteran drummer Michael Stephans and percussionist Munyungo Jackson.

The album's music is mostly midtempo, very percussive and groovy, quite minimalist and almost chamber. All but one of the songs are Maupin originals ("Penumbra" is credited to all quartet members). Maupin's solos lead each song, sometimes lyrical, soulful, or in other cases - more meditative. It sounds very much as a seasoned veteran telling his life story from the distance of years, with maturity, but without sentimentality or melancholy. Very often Maupin's solos sound as monologues. Surprisingly enough, Bennie's playing is free, "Penumbra" is his freest album for sure. Rhythm section is very supportive, intuitive end intelligent adding lots of modern textures to this intimate music.

Along with "The Jewel in the Lotus", "Penumbra" is one of the very best Maupin albums, a real secret jam.

BENNIE MAUPIN Slow Traffic to the Right

Album · 1977 · Fusion
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Comparing Maupin's first two albums you get a perfect illustration of the huge gap between the fusion of the first half and that of the second half of the 70s. Maupin's 74 'Jewel in the Lotus' album was experimental, daring, totally out there and mesmerizing. 'Slow Traffic' on the other hand is down to earth, funky, smooth and to my ears totally forgettable. It just makes me wonder how it all could go from mind-blowing to wallpaper jazz in just a few years?

I don't know the answer but the music says it all. We start with the harmless soft-porn easy listening funk of 'It Remains to be seen'. Skip. 'Eternal Flame' is a bit more loungey and atmospheric. It sets a mood for greater things to happen. And the anticipation rises, because the third track is an adaptation of 'Water Torture' from Hancock's Mwandishi era. The musicians here are largely the same (bar Hancock) and since this track counts amongst the best fusion has to offer, I couldn't resist the curiosity to hear it. Unfortunately, this torture has become the type of funky muzak that is only fir for TV commercials, listening to it will just make you doze off. All magic and tension from the original is professionally destroyed.

The second side of the album follows the same pattern. A funk/disco track followed by a quiet atmospheric one and another funk/dub treatment of a Mwandishi classic 'Quasar'.

While not a bad album if you like the smooth silky jazz fusion of the later 70s (at least it's not cheesy!), the contrast with the creative excitement of the early 70s era is simply too much to take for me, and the result is at least less then half as enjoyable. Hence 2.5 stars.

BENNIE MAUPIN Slow Traffic to the Right

Album · 1977 · Fusion
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Critics often write this record off as being Bennie Maupin's commercial album, there are a few mellow groove oriented cuts on here, but this is far from typical late 70s fusion-lite, or 'fuzak'. Maupin had just finished long stints with Herbie Hancock's avant-garde electro fusion Sextet, as well as his futuristic funk band The Headhunters when he released this album that combines The Sextets psychedelic electronic textures with The Headhunters sophisticated orchestrated grooves. It took Herbie's ex-sideman to create the perfect blend of Hancock's adventurous 'Crossings' and his more tightly focused 'Manchild'.

'It Remains to be Seen' kicks off the album with a steady funk groove layered with reverb heavy orchestrated horns and electronic atmospheres. The beat is unobtrusive and seems to pre-date 90s acid jazz and trip-hop. Bennie and pianist Patrice Rushen turn in high energy solos that lift the song far from commercial pabulum. This song is followed by 'Eternal Flame', a long unwinding melody backed by an abstract jazz beat. The harmonies and the song's long dramatic build-up recall some of Debussy and Ravel's Spanish tinged music. This song wouldn't sound out of place on an ECM release.

Side one closes out with 'Water Torture', a slightly funkier remake of a former abstract Sextet tune. Maupin also augments the original arrangement with lots of extras as he and arranger Onaje Allan Gumbs showcase their ability to orchestrate with their small ensemble. Throughout the album Bennie combines his arsenal of woodwinds with synthesist Pat Gleeson's electronics to create exotic 70s 'futuristic' sound textures. When they occasionally add wordless vocals they almost take the music into 'space-age bachelor' territory. Speaking of kitsch, side two opens with 'You Know the Deal', a slow funk number that has blaxploitation soundtrack written all over it. Gleeson's bizarre synth breaks and Blackbird McKnight's classic late 60s fuzz tone psychedelic guitar solo complete this gritty urban scenario for a car chase that never happened.

Next up is 'Lament', an acoustic classically influenced jazz ballad with Maupin on clarinet and Onaje Allan Gumbs on piano. The album closes with 'Quasar', yet another tune that originally appeared on a Sextet album. This time I prefer the more subtle original version to this album's version which has the song's exotic melody repeated too many times and subjected to an anachronistic early-70s styled progressive rock like huge build-up with a massive string orchestra to the point that it really is a bit overdone.

If you like the sophisticated psychedelic groove music of Herbie Hancock's early 70s bands and soundtracks, then you will probably like this brilliant spin-off by Bennie Maupin.

BENNIE MAUPIN The Jewel in the Lotus

Album · 1974 · Fusion
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This is one of the many Mwandishi offshoot releases, an album recorded by virtually the same line-up as Hancock's early 70's masterpieces. But this one is composed by clarinet player Bennie Maupin, and it is very different from Crossings or Sextant, demonstrating how this line-up had reached a level of creativity and collective intuition that allowed them to take on entirely different and very challenging material.

'The Jewel in The Lotus' is a very experimental album, avant-garde almost, but not of the hard-core kind. The music is free-jazz based and largely eschews traditional melodic playing but it is still very rich harmonically, leaving an impression that it was composed as much as improvised. The tight grooves, which drove Hancock's albums, are absent. Instead the drums, just like all other instruments, are used to create an atmospheric texture that ebbs and flows as graciously as the waves, very fluent, continuous music with vague abstract patterns. It's hard to grasp sometimes, and nearly impossible to analyze, but at the same time it's one of those albums that totally drags you into its gentle dreamy mood. It's brooding, mesmerizing, addictive.

I've only recently got to know this album thanks to a much appreciated suggestion from a hard-core fan. I can see why now, this work quickly established itself as one of my favorite titles of my most beloved jazz period, that of the early 70s, where a deeply psychedelic and intuitive approach embraced some of the energy and electricity of rock. A masterpiece. Much recommend to fans of the early Weather Report albums and Davis' Silent Way.

BENNIE MAUPIN The Jewel in the Lotus

Album · 1974 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
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

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