A pair of funky jazz sets from Bennie Maupin – '77's Slow Traffic To The Right and '78's Moonscapes – together in a single set! Slow Traffic To The Right is Maupin's first LP for Mercury, and a great bit of spiritual funky jazz that recalls a lot of the sound of his work with The Headhunters. The first track, "It Remains to Be Seen", is an excellent groover, with some very dark keyboard work by Patrice Rushen, and the rest of the tracks are pretty great too. Pat Gleeson produced and plays synth on the LP, and the cuts include "Quasar", "You Know the Deal", "Water Torture", and "Lament".
' Bennie Maupin's Cryptogramophone label follow-up CD to "Penumbra" both parallels and provides a departure from that excellent effort. What is similar is the softer tone Maupin is displaying in his far post-Headhunters days, refined by experience and cured though wisdom. The music Maupin plays on this beautiful effort is even more subdued, as he collaborates with an ensemble of relatively unknown musicians from Poland.' Michael.G.Nastos@allmusic.com
' Bennie has played and recorded with a wide variety of musical icons, including trumpeters Davis, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard; pianists McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill; saxophonists Lateef and Marion Brown; and drummers Roy Haynes, Jack DeJohnette, and Lenny White – to name only a few. He has played in all manner of musical settings and configurations, from solo performances to large orchestra concerts; from chamber recitals to Broadway shows. There is simply nothing the man can’t do and do brilliantly.' Liner Notes Penumbra
' Some of the best and most forward thinking of today’s young musicians clearly find ways to avoid being locked into a stylistic corner by self-proclaimed mavens of jazz and improvised music. Such eclecticism has to come from somewhere. Two of the major breeding grounds for this kind of imaginative diversity were and are, of course, the many musical odysseys of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Both were restless seekers, never satisfied with the status quo, always reaching beyond themselves for new and uncharted improvisational geographies. Both men, each in his own way, sounded a clarion call for musicians and listeners alike to wake up, shake off their complacency and free themselves from the known. It’s safe to say that among those who were first to hear the call was woodwind virtuoso and master improviser, Bennie Maupin.' Liner Notes
None of Miles Davis' recordings has been more shrouded in mystery than Jack Johnson, yet none has better fulfilled Miles Davis' promise that he could form the "greatest rock band you ever heard." Containing only two tracks, the album was assembled out of no less than four recording sessions between February 18, 1970, and June 4, 1970, and was patched together by producer Teo Macero. Most of the outtake material ended up on Directions, Big Fun, and elsewhere. The first misconception is the lineup: the credits on the recording are incomplete. For the opener, "Right Off," the band is Miles, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Michael Henderson, and Steve Grossman (no piano player!), which reflects the liner notes.
Could there be any more confrontational sound in Miles Davis' vast catalog than the distorted guitars and tinny double-timing drums reacting to a two-note bass riff funking it up on the first track from On the Corner? Before the trumpet even enters the picture, the story has been broken off somewhere in the middle, with deep street music melding with a secret language held within the band and those who can actually hear this music – certainly not the majority of Miles' fan base built up over the past 25 years.
Despite the presence of classic tracks like Joe Zawinul's "Great Expectations," Big Fun feels like the compendium of sources it is. These tracks are all outtakes from other sessions, most notably Bitches Brew, On the Corner, and others. The other element is that many of these tracks appeared in different versions elsewhere. These were second takes, or the unedited takes before producer Teo Macero and Miles were able to edit them, cut and paste their parts into other things, or whatever. That is not to say the album should be dismissed. Despite the numerous lineups and uneven flow of the tracks, there does remain some outstanding playing and composing here. Most notably is "Great Expectations" from 1969, which opens the album.
The revolution was recorded: in 1969 Bitches Brew sent a shiver through a country already quaking. It was a recording whose very sound, production methods, album-cover art, and two-LP length all signaled that jazz could never be the same. Over three days anger, confusion, and exhilaration had reigned in the studio, and the sonic themes, scraps, grooves, and sheer will and emotion that resulted were percolated and edited into an astonishingly organic work. This Miles Davis wasn't merely presenting a simple hybrid like jazz-rock, but a new way of thinking about improvisation and the studio. John F. Szwed