Release date: May 9th 2006
Availability: amazon MP3, iTunes, physical CD
This magnificent album, released on the tiny Cryptogramophone label, appeared in 2006 and was underappreciated. It is now widely available again on direct download MP3 and on iTunes.
Bennie Maupin played on many of the seminal Miles Davis sessions that led the way to jazz fusion ("Bitches Brew", "The Jack Johnson Sessions", "On The Corner"). He was a member of Herbie Hancock's "Headhunters" and he was one of the first artists to record for the ECM label – his first album "The Jewel In The Lotus" was re-released in November 2007. However, he has received little attention or recognition of late.
A multi-instrumentalist, Bennie Maupin plays bass clarinet, saxophone and flute. Darek Oleskiewicz plays impressive bass that forms a sinuous centre for Bennie Maupin's music. Drums (Munyungo Jackson) and percussion (Michael Stephans) combine to produce a subtle but inventive backing. Following Eric Dolphy, bass clarinet is shown to be a versatile, rewarding jazz instrument.
The openness and musical space is comparable to that achieved by Sonny Rollins in his pianoless quartets. But "Penumbra" is more understated, more open, more immersive. There are intimations of free form, as on "Level Three", but the overall stance is overwhelmingly meditative and lyrical, as typified by the title track.
Stand out tracks are "Message To Prez", "Walter Bishop Jr" and "One For Eric Dolphy" where bass clarinet is centre stage.
Just to show no hard feelings towards the piano, the closing track "Equal Justice" is a beautiful piece led by Bennie Maupin on piano.
Penumbra album liner notes
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