8 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

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.

EDITORS’ NOTES

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.

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