Simon says :
In the four years since the spacey ambience of his 1974 debut album "The Jewel In the Lotus", woodwinds man Bennie Maupin had been heavily involved in the expanding universe of electric jazz, straight-ahead funk and various intersections between the two. He'd been on the Herbie Hancock albums "Thrust", "Man Child", "Secrets", "Sunlight", "Flood" and other live Hancock recordings, and would continue with Hancock until the end of the 70s.
He'd also played on the Headhunters own funky albums, "Survival Of The Fittest" and "Straight From the Gate", on both of which all tracks were group compositions.Between '74 and '78 Maupin had also guested on a wide range of albums, primarily by jazz artists exploring the new hybrids of electric jazz-funk, including Eddie Henderson's "Sunburst" and "Mahal"; Jack DeJohnette's "Sorcery"; Michael Howell's "In the Meantime"; Lenny White's "Big City"; Wah Wah Watson's "Elementary"; Paul Jackson's "Black Octopus"; Sonny Rollins' "Nucleus"; Harvey Mason's "Marching In the Street"; and Alphonso Johnson's "Moonshadows".
A busy man, no wonder he's lounging back on that chair on the back cover.
The previous year, 1977, he'd signed to Mercury Records and released his second album "Slow Traffic to the Right", a more commercial affair than his previous album, on which he'd updated and funked up a few of his compositions from the Mwandishi Hancock "Crossings" album, featuring some nice orchestrations from pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs, solid rhodes work from Patrice Rushen and surprisingly smooth production from his Mwandishi cohort, synthesist Pat Gleeson.
"Moonscapes" is his third album, released in 1978. Gleeson and Gumbs are back again, though Maupin himself seems to be more in charge of the synth textures than before. Bobby Lyle - who was in between his first two albums "The Genie" and "New Warrior" - ably takes over the rhodes / piano chair from Patrice Rushen, and contributes good funky clavinet work. Session guitarist Mike "Maniac" Sembello gives this album a slick - sometimes a little too slick - fusion edge.
Maupin himself is concentrating more on (relatively, for him) harder-blown soprano and tenor sax work here, and there's not much bass clarinet or flute. Producer Gleeson balances things well, though there's a little too much phasing on the saxaphone that flattens Maupin's dynamics sometimes. I like the low-key "Farewell To Rahsaan" best of all, it's got some nice interplay between the belltones of Bobby Lyle's rhodes and Beverley Bellow's harp, with some more fluid dynamics from Maupin, and controlled delay and multitracking from Gleeson. "Anua" is another good rack, Sembello's choppy on-beat riffing holding the backbone for some inspired work from Maupin and Lyle.
After this, it was to be twenty years until Maupin's next album, 1998's "Driving While Black", containing some good keyboards/rhodes, and great playing from Maupin, but also some flaccid drum machine programming from Pat Gleeson that has not dated well at all.
His two recent, more straight-ahead albums for the Cryptogramaphon label reveal that Bennie's still got the chops - 2006's "Penumbra" - hear some full tracks here - and "Early Reflections" from this year.
SIDEBAR : BETYE SAAR (front cover collage, "Moonscapes")
In the late 1960s Saar began collecting images of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Tom, Little Black Sambo, and other stereotyped African American figures from folk culture and advertising. She incorporated them into collages and assemblages, transforming them into provocative statements of political and social protest. In the 1970s Saar shifted focus again, exploring ritual and tribal objects from Africa as well as items from African American folk traditions. In new boxed assemblages, she combined shamanistic tribal fetishes with images and objects evoking the magical and the mystical.
Click the link above for more info on Betye Saar and further links.
01. "Nightwatch" (6:09)
02. "Farewell To Rahsaan (Dedicated To Rahsaan Roland Kirk 1936 - 1977)" - (3:34)
03. "Anua" (6:48)
04. "A Promise Kept" (5:46)
05. "Just Give It Some Time" (4:45)
06. "Sansho Shima" (4:23)
07. "Crystals" (1:18)
All tracks written by Maupin except (5) Gumbs All tracks arranged by Maupin except (5) Gumbs, (3, 6) Maupin / Gumbs
Bennie Maupin - soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, flute, bass marimba, glockenspiel, synthesizer (EU synthesizer, Computone synthesizer, winddriver)
Bobby Lyle - piano, electric piano, clavinet
Onaje Allen Gumbs - electric piano (5.6)
Mike Sembello - acoustic and electric guitar
Abraham La Boriel - bass
Mingo Lewis - congas, miscellaneous percussion
Harvey Mason - drums
Derrick Youman - vocals (4)
Beverly Bellows - harp (2)
Producer - Pat Gleeson
Programmed By - Patrick Gleeson
Recording Engineer - Steve Montoani
Additional Engineer - Seth Dworken
Mastered By - Johnny Golden
A & R - Gerry Hoff
Photography - Jonathan Exely
Design - Desmond Strobel
Front Cover Collage - Betye Saar
Mercury Records SRM-1-3717
Track 5 published by Onaje Music Publishing Co. (ASCAP)
All other selections published by Benpin Music (BMI).
Recorded at Conway Recorders Inc, Los Angeles.
Mixed at Different Fur, San Francisco.
Mastered at Kendun Recorders, Burbank.
Manufactured by Phonogram, Inc., A Polygram Company. Distributed by Phonodisc, Inc.
Alt ref#s in run-out grooves:
A: T1 SRM-1-3717-CT-A2
B: T1 SRM-1-3717-CT-B2
320 vinyl rip by Bacoso.
Album links in this post go to :
Oufar Khan, My Jazz World, Ile Oxumaré, Sanpasquale Ent, Abracadabra, Milk Crate Breaks, My Favourite Sound, Bug In The City, Melloman, Mwandishi, Jazz-Rock-Fusion-Guitar, Blog-O-Blog, and BeeQ.
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