Slow Traffic to the Right
THE ORIGINAL LP SRM-1-1148 (1977) STEREO
It Remains to be Seen (Maupin)
Eternal Flame (Maupin)
Water Torture (Maupin)
You Know the Deal (Monteiro; Jackson)
THE ORIGINAL LP SRM-1-3717 (1978) STEREO
Farewell to Rahsaan (Maupin) Dedicated to Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1936-77)
A Promise Kept (Maupin)
Just Give It Some Time (Gumbs)
Sansho Shima (Maupin)
featuring: Bennie Maupin (soprano/tenor sax, saxello, piccolo, flute/alto flute, bass clarinet), Eddie Henderson (trumpet/flugelhorn), Patrice Rushen & Bobby Lyle (keyboards), Patrick Gleeson (synthesizers), Paul Jackson & Abraham Laboriel (bass guitar), James Levi & Harvey Mason (drums)
American saxophonist and bass clarinettist Bennie Maupin came to prominence during the latter half of the 1960s as one of the most distinctive new voices in jazz. Paying his dues in groups led by an illustrious roll call of jazz greats including Roy Haynes, Horace Silver, Andrew Hill, Jack DeJohnette and Marion Brown, in 1969 Maupin was summoned to the Columbia studios by none other than Miles Davis to participate in the sessions that yielded the trumpeter’s landmark jazz-rock album ‘Bitches Brew’. From there, Maupin joined the ranks of the jazz elite, and in the early ’70s formed an alliance with another jazz great (and ex-Davis sideman), Herbie Hancock. Maupin became an integral part of Hancock’s two classic ’70s groups – the avant-garde ensemble Mwandishi and the powerhouse jazz-funk band Head Hunters. Maupin contributed powerfully to such famous Head Hunter’s albums as ‘Headhunters’ (1973, which featured the legendary jazz-funk jam Chameleon), ‘Thrust’ (1974) and ‘Man-Child’ (1975). This release marks the first ever CD reissue of Bennie Maupin’s two late ’70s albums – ‘Slow Traffic to the Right’ (1977) & ‘Moonscapes’ (1978) – recorded for the Mercury label. They form the ideal showcase for Maupin’s talents both as a composer and instrumentalist, featuring his unique brand of sophisticated jazz-funk tinged with a spiritual, cosmic edge. Among the thirteen tracks are gorgeous jazz-funk remakes of Quasar and Water Torture, two pieces Maupin composed for the Mwandishi band, alongside other electrifying Maupin originals including It Remains to be Seen, Nightwatch, Sansho Shima (written for Herbie Hancock’s group) and Farewell to Rahsaan, Maupin’s poignant dedication to jazz legend Rahsaan Roland Kirk. On both sessions Maupin is accompanied by a stellar cast of musicians including Eddie Henderson (trumpet/flugelhorn), Patrice Rushen & Bobby Lyle (keyboards), Patrick Gleeson (synthesizers), Paul Jackson & Abraham Laboriel (bass guitar) and James Levi & Harvey Mason (drums).
Remastered from the original stereo analogue tapes.
"To this writer's knowledge this is the first re-issue (European at the very least) of a 1977 album on Mercury that conjurs up all the intensity of the Headhunters band minus the input of Herbie Hancock. However, when you see the list of musicians and discover that they include Blackbird McKnight, Eddie Henderson and Patrick Gleeson to name just a few, you know that you are in for an invigorating musical journey and with no less than Patrice Rushen replacing Hancock on keyboard duties and Maupin himself leading frequently, this is a Headhunters album in all but name, albeit exploring territory that harks back to Mwandishi in parts. Proceedings start as they mean to continue with the brooding jazz-funk of 'Quasar' in which heavy bassline and subtle fender rhodes combine to great effect. Closest of all to the Headhunters approach is 'Water torture' with the opening fender and bass clarinet attack impressing and as a whole the piece is actually quite orchestral in feel with Maupin backing up on some soulful tenor saxophone. More reflective than spiritual is 'It remains to be seen' which is an album highlight and showcases the wonderful Rushen on an extended keyboard solo. There is, though, something of a mystical quality to 'Eternal Flame'.Some comment must be made of the extensive and informative sleeve notes which are based largely on a interview with and article on Maupin and shed useful light on the development of this band. The first album is coupled with another from just a couple of years later that, while not on a par with the former, is nonetheless worth a visit and makes for a terrific package of two albums for the price of one CD. Definitely one of the most welcome re-issues of the year for lovers of funk-tinged jazz."
4/5, Tim Stenhouse, Manchester Evening News, August 2011
"Grossly under-rated, but massive talent that is US clarinettist and saxophonist Bernie Maupin. Slow Traffic To The Right (1977) and Moonscapes (1978) are superb slices of jazz fusion, and spotlight innovative playing that prove Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock sideman Maupin was in many ways, ahead of his time. The opener 'It Remains To Be Seen' on 'Slow Traffic To The Right' is a really tasty chunk of jazz fusion, on the funk tip. Worth the purchase price just for that one brilliant track. And you get the two albums on one disc. They really are spoiling us.
Maupin paid his dues with Roy Haynes, Horace Silver, Andrew Hill, the great Jack De Johnette and Marion Brown in the '60s. But his profile was boosted dramatically, when in 1969 he got the call to go to Columbia’s recording studios by Miles Davis, to contribute to the sessions for the classic jazz-rock album 'Bitches Brew.' In the 70s, Maupin joined Herbie Hancock, as an integral part of avante-garde outfit Mwandishi, and Hancock’s brilliant Headhunters.
This is the first ever CD re-issue of Maupin’s two albums, recorded for the Mercury label. Showcasing not only his talents as a versatile and tasteful musician, but also as a very clever arranger and composer. Described as “sophisticated jazz-funk, tinged with a spiritual cosmic edge,” whatever that is. The players Maupin assembled for these two albums are impressive, to say the least. Eddie Henderson, Patrice Rushen, Bobby Lyle, Patrick Gleeson, Paul Jackson, Abraham Laboriel, James Levi and Harvey Mason. I am personally thrilled to add these two albums to my collection in CD form. Real gems."
Simon Redley, www.bluesandsoul.com, August 2011
"Mention the name Bennie Maupin to a certain generation of jazz fans and you’re sure to get a knowing smile followed by a sharp intake of breath. His baritone, soprano and tenor sax work on seminal Miles Davis albums ‘Bitches Brew’ and ‘Big Fun’ and Herbie Hancock‘s famous ‘Headhunters’ would be more than enough for any jazz career, though unfortunately he’s struggled to make an impression as a solo artist, to date releasing just four albums as a leader.
Vocalion have remastered and re-released the middle two solo albums, ‘Slow Traffic To The Right‘ and ‘Moonscapes‘, from 1977 and 1978 respectively, and put them together in a very attractive single-CD package. A quick glance at the personnel gives a good indication of the high-class jazz/funk with a spiritual/modal bent to come, including Patrice Rushen, Bobby Lyle and Patrick Gleeson on keys, Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Harvey Mason on drums, Mike Sembello on guitar and Paul Jackson or Abe Laboriel on bass. Rushen is frequently the star of the show, particularly on the opener ‘It Remains To Be Seen’ where she lays down some delicious clavinet and a glittering piano solo which almost matches Herbie Hancock or Kenny Kirkland in full flight. Maupin is mixed right to the front of the music, loud and proud, and delivers a majestic, snake-charming soprano solo on ‘Just Give It Some Time’ and some beguiling baritone and sermonising tenor on ‘Water Torture’.
Very much in the slipstream of such seminal Herbie Hancock albums as ‘Secrets’ and ‘Man-child’, this is irresistible stuff for fans of spacey jazz/funk."
Matt Phillips, www.jazzfm.com, September 2011