Bennie Maupin (born 29 August 1940) is a Detroit jazz multireedist. He performs on saxophones, flute and bass clarinet. He is probably best-known for his membership in Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi sextet and Headhunters band, and for performing on Miles Davis's seminal fusion record, Bitches Brew. Maupin has collaborated with Horace Silver, Roy Haynes and many others. He has also performed on several Meat Beat Manifesto albums.
He is probably best-known for his membership in Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi sextet and Headhunters band, and for performing on Miles Davis's seminal fusion record, Bitches Brew. Maupin has collaborated with Horace Silver, Roy Haynes and many others. He has also performed on several Meat Beat Manifesto albums. He is noted for having a very harmonically-advanced, "out" improvisation style, while having a different sense of melodic direction than other "out" Jazz musicians such as Eric Dolphy. As a composer, he has a unique ability to create brief melodies and song forms that manage to create vast landscapes for improvisation.
His debut solo release, The Jewel In the Lotus, was released on the ECM label in 1974. Bennie was one of the first musicians to record for ECM, playing on a Marion Brown record in August 1970, when the label was just a few months old. The early 70s were spent mostly working with Herbie Hancock's ensembles and The Jewel In The Lotus is essentially a pooling of players from the Hancock circle, including Herbie himself in his only ECM appearance. The Jewel In The Lotus was Bennie Maupin's first leader record. The album was recorded in March 1974, and could be described as a sequence of pulsing tone-poems, full of glowing, compound sound-colors and subtle interactions - a jazz-and-Buddhism-inspired floating chamber music that was way ahead of its time. The recording shows Maupin very much concerned with the totality of the musical conception, with the form as a whole. He is an exceptional improviser, thinking compositionally and directing group music in the moment.
The instrumentation of Maupin's current group, The Bennie Maupin Ensemble, harks back to the tradition of great saxophone-bass-drum trios, such as the group led by Sonny Rollins with Wilbur Ware and Elvin Jones. Maupin's approach to his music is intentional and profound, yet alive in the interpretation of the moment.