Bennie Maupin

COMPOSERS: Bennie Maupin
ALBUM TITLE: The Jewel in the Lotus
PERFORMER: Bennie Maupin (voice, reeds), Herbie Hancock (piano), Billy Hart (drums)
Although he had an established track record with some of the hardest hard-bop bands, Bennie Maupin gets pigeon-holed as the guy recruited to enrich the textures of several fusion classics of the 1960s and ’70s, notably Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew. In March 1974, during his stint with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, he called on band colleagues to record this album, now on CD for the first time. There are echoes – mutual influences, no doubt – of the music of Davis, Hancock and Joe Zawinul, each of whom had experimented with similar approaches, eschewing the primacy of virtuosic improvised solos for slowly-building compositions where texture was dominant: even percussionists were concerned with texture as much as beat. Reflecting Maupin’s Buddhism, much of the music is reflective, restrained solos merging into a homogeneous whole rather than promoting individual talents.


Barry Witherden