January 14, 2016

Bennie Maupin - The Jewel In The Lotus (1974)


Light and sleek jazz fusion from the early 70s. If you've heard of Bennie Maupin, you most likely know him from his work with Herbie Hancock during the keyboardist's spaced-out Columbia years. The wind player was present on every Hancock album from Mwandishi until at least Manchild and contributed heavily to the band's unique attack on the fusion scene. Maupin also chimed in on the colossal Bitches Brew, and he brings the smooth, organic sound from both of those bands to his debut as a leader. Maupin, the usual sideman, does not establish the same sense of direction and atmosphere reinforcement as Hancock and Davis did as leaders, but I mean what's going to compare to those greats really? Buster Williams' electric bass (also a key sideman in the Mwandishi sextet) is one of the most dominant forces on the album--Thrust was the first jazz album I ever owned, and his unique playing has some nostalgic value to me as well. If you're a fusion fan looking for an album with a peaceful atmosphere that follows in line with early-70s Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, or Lonnie Liston Smith, this is a must-grab.

Sample

The Jewel In The Lotus