270

Bennie Maupin: The Jewel In The Lotus

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Bennie Maupin: The Jewel In The Lotus For the collector, a first-time issue on CD of any of ECM's early releases is most welcome. Which ones are chosen for release—and when they are issued—may well appear to be arbitrary to the outsider, despite a certain plan internal to the label.

That The Jewel In The Lotus, first released in 1974, has finally been issued on CD is worth celebrating for two reasons: first, the music is of the highest quality; and second, Bennie Maupin has not recorded much as a leader, with Penumbra (Cryptogramophone, 2006) and Driving While Black (Intuition, 1997) his most recent releases.

While Maupin's reputation came from his bass clarinet work on Miles Davis' Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1969), here he plays mostly flute and soprano saxophone (the album itself lists just reeds, voice and glockenspiel), in many-layered, highly processed (reverb/echo) soundscapes.

Music can become iconic if the players manage to instill within it universal emotions that take what is stylistically time-bound and make it timeless. Every classic album, such as Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959), stands outside of its time, seeming fresh and inspiring no matter how many times it is played.

Whether or not The Jewel In The Lotus should be considered at such an exalted level as Kind Of Blue, there is no question that the music transcends its milieu and presents strong images and highly charged emotions.

The album possesses a unified sound world that evokes lushness, open spaces, nature as both life-giver and destroyer, and a sense of peace and tranquility. Despite the presence of three drummers/percussionists (Frederick Waits, Billy Hart and Bill Summers), the music has very little distinct pulse for any period of time. The drumming/percussion is used as another voice in the mix, even when an African drum pattern surfaces.

Bassist Buster Williams plays an important role, many times providing a pedal point, but also acting as a voice—arco and plucked—that plays with and against Herbie Hanock's piano and electric piano. What Hancock does is miraculous, as he surrounds the soundstage with widely spaced chords and arpeggios when he is not creating percussive slabs of sound.

Above and within all of this is Maupin, enhanced by electronics (and overdubbing) almost to the point that his instruments lose their identity and become pure sound. Identifiable melody is not really the point; what is played is mostly thematic phrases, presented and then carried along by the winds of the group.

The result is a mesmerizing, swirling, pulsating and breathing set with the title track (and its surrounding prelude and postlude) epitomizing the musical conception.

To listen to The Jewel In The Lotus is to leave this world.

Track Listing: Ensenada; Mappo; Excursion; Past + Present = Future; The Jewel in the Lotus; Winds of Change; Song for Tracie Dixon Summers; Past is Past.

Personnel: Bennie Maupin: reeds, voice, glockenspiel; Herbie Hancock: piano, electric piano; Buster Williams: bass; Frederick Waits: drums and marimba (left channel); Billy Hart: drums (right channel); Bill Summers: percussion, water-filled garbage can; Charles Sullivan: trumpet (2, 3).

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Cross My Palm With Silver CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read One Minute Later CD/LP/Track Review One Minute Later
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 28, 2017
Read JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800° CD/LP/Track Review JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800°
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Ephimeral CD/LP/Track Review Ephimeral
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Fly or Die CD/LP/Track Review Fly or Die
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Z Octet" CD/LP/Track Review Z Octet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2016
Read "Disappeared Behind the Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Reflection" CD/LP/Track Review Reflection
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "Up Go We" CD/LP/Track Review Up Go We
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 4, 2016
Read "Early Americans" CD/LP/Track Review Early Americans
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 22, 2016
Read "Buoyancy" CD/LP/Track Review Buoyancy
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!