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The Jewel In the Lotus

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iTunes Review

The Jewel in The Lotus, reedsman Benny Maupin’s excellent 1974 debut as a leader, is striking in a number of ways. In contrast to the intense wailing that characterized many albums from that time, much of the album has a subtle, muted quality. Instruments not typically found on a jazz album, such as marimba and glockenspiel, are employed, and drums and other percussion instruments are primarily used to create atmospheric textures. Maupin’s approach to his various horns is intriguing: it’s as if in place of soloing he’s delineating the group’s mass sound with his slow-moving melodies. And it’s interesting to hear the great pianist Herbie Hancock play in this context; he’s never done anything else quite like this. With its subtle shifts, the album is delightfully unpredictable throughout. Part of “Excursion” sounds like Gregorian chant from outer space, “Mappo” moves between the ethereal and the fiery, and “Winds of Change” paints an eerie landscape. Jewel is a truly distinctive disc, a quiet landmark at a time when jazz was going through a lot of noisy changes.

Customer Reviews

jewel in the lotus

Bought this when released in 1974 with different cover. Beautiful, introspective, challenging sound portraits. Some of the same musicians as performed on the first headhunters album. Much recommended.

Intros that never arrive....

These pieces feel like extended introductions for works that never arrive. Beautiful in their own way, but ultimately frustrating. In some ways a less successful version of "In a Silent Way" or certain ambient albums. The music never approaches anything resembling a groove, which is fine, as that is not its intent. However, there is never a sense of place or rest which good ambient and modal music can provide. The result is a constant restless searching without finding. Others may enjoy that experience. I found it intriguing for one or two pieces, and then quickly tiresome.

Biography

Born: August 29, 1940 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Bennie Maupin is best-known for his association with Herbie Hancock and his atmospheric bass clarinet playing on Miles Davis' classic Bitches Brew album. Maupin started playing tenor in high school and attended the Detroit Institute for Musical Arts, playing locally in Detroit. He moved to New York in 1963, freelancing with many groups, including ones led by Marion Brown and Pharoah Sanders. Maupin played regularly with Roy Haynes (1966-1968) and Horace Silver (1968-1969), recording with McCoy Tyner...
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The Jewel In the Lotus, Bennie Maupin
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