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
Kenny Barron and Jimmy Owens' first recording was a solid debut. The exciting title cut, "You Had Better Listen," composed by Jimmy Owens, is good, basic, uptempo jazz, nothing fancy, no frills. The Jimmy Owens-Kenny Barron Quintet doesn't condescend like some jazz artists tend to do; casuals can groove, relate, nod their heads in approval and feel righteous about it. Owens plays some beautiful trumpet scales, while Barron keeps busy banging chord progressions. The other members of the quintet are Benny Maupin (tenor sax, flute), Chris White (bass), Freddie Waits (drums on tracks one, two and four), and Rudy Collins (drums on tracks three through five).
The follow-up to the breakthrough Headhunters album was virtually as good as its wildly successful predecessor: an earthy, funky, yet often harmonically and rhythmically sophisticated tour de force. There is only one change in the Headhunters lineup – swapping drummer Harvey Mason for Mike Clark – and the switch results in grooves that are even more complex. Hancock continues to reach into the rapidly changing high-tech world for new sounds, most notably the metallic sheen of the then-new ARP string synthesizer which was already becoming a staple item on pop and jazz-rock records. Again, there are only four long tracks, three of which ("Palm Grease," "Actual Proof," "Spank-A-Lee") concentrate on the funk, with plenty of Hancock's wah-wah clavinet, synthesizer textures and effects, and electric piano ruminations that still venture beyond the outer limits of post-bop.
Robert "Bob" Hurst's 2013 album Bob: A Palindrome follows up the bassist's 2010 studio album Bob Ya Head. Recorded in 2001, the album's release was delayed by 9/11, as well as Hurst's own busy career as a highly sought-after sideman and professor of music at the University of Michigan. Joining Hurst here are such longtime associates as saxophonist Branford Marsalis, drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, flutist and bass clarinetist Bennie Maupin, pianist Robert Glasper, and percussionist Adam Rudolph. With all the songs composed and arranged by Hurst, including the epic mid-album Duke Ellington-style three-part "Middle Passage Suite," Bob: A Palindrome is a superb showcase for Hurst's improvisational skill, songwriting ability, and talent for assembling an all-star band. This is urbane, highly creative, and straight-ahead modern jazz at its finest.
Drummer Jack DeJohnette's debut as a leader (which has been reissued on CD) has quite a bit of variety. The music ranges from advanced swinging to brief free improvisations and some avant-funk. DeJohnette (who doubles on melodica) is joined by Bennie Maupin (on tenor and flute), keyboardist Stanley Cowell, bassists Miroslav Vitous and Eddie Gomez, and drummer Roy Haynes. He uses six different combinations of musicians on the eight songs (five of his originals, John Coltrane's "Miles' Mode," Cowell's "Equipoise" and Vitous' "Mirror Image"). Intriguing and generally successful music.