The Jazzcat

Bennie Maupin at Catalina’s Bar and Grill for his “Early Reflections” CD Release Party

by on May.05, 2008, under News

Such an incredible musician whose mind, spirit and soul are

surrounded by a peace that exudes in his compositions.  The sound of the bass clarinet is like no

other and there are not too many who attempt to express its beauty.


Bennie is a thinker. 

In person and on stage there is never a rush to answer, there is always

space and there is always time.  As a

matter of fact, whatever mood or energetic space you happen to be in, one sentence,

one sound, one note and the frequency changes to Bennie just like a compass,

the magnetism is 100% and always accurate.


Early Reflections

Tonight is a celebration for a new CD release called

“Early Reflections”.  On it he collaborates

with some fine musicians from Poland

and their synergy create the right kind of vibe.  Playing with Polish cats is nothing new to

Bennie since Derek Oles has been a core member of his band for quite some

time.  Other regular members of the group

include Munyungo Jackson on percussion and Michael Stephans on drums. Bennie

said that “Trane had Elvin and I have Michael”, a musical statement that every

jazz aficionado knows not to take with a grain of salt. This is the first time

that we get to hear from pianist Michael Tokai who was flown in all the way

from Warsaw Poland to play with the band.


Believe it or not, Poland is big on the music.  When I use to work at KKJZ back in 2003, I

had a few regular folks who used to listen from there.  When I visited Chicago,

I descended on the community that had more Polish people than Warsaw and I went to a Polish jazz festival

that was packed with Polish love for the music!


Bennie switches from bass clarinet to tenor to flute to alto

but when the wind passes through the instrument you can feel the calm nature of

the life spirit he possesses. He plays “My One and Only Love” which of course

puts me in touch with mine. Back in 2006 when my love Hydeus

Kiatta was transitioning worlds, Bennie’s album “Penumbra” was a

constant source of peace and serenity. It was one of the saddest, meaningful

and most beautiful times in my life and the music was our bonding our souls



Hanya Ripka is a wonderful spirit who happen to really

impress Bennie when he visited Poland.  Many singers want to sing with Bennie and he

never takes them seriously but when presented with the undeniable truth, you

have no choice but to indulge in the fresh, spiritual, organic, classical,

penetrating tone of this wonderful discovery.


 For many singers, out

front is their position of choice and for some their voice takes on another

instrument in the band.  Of course, I am

curious on a Polish approach to vocalese so I am paying close attention to how

she phrases, shapes and molds the sound. 

She listens and you can tell that she hears and feels as she duals with

Bennie’s soprano. I love to see her smile because there is so much happiness

and humility there yet she is so confident in her vocal ability. I prefer that

perspective as appose to insecurity that I usually seem to come in contact with

when it comes to singers trying to make it in the vein. If you have it, breathe

it, be it, believe in it and let the nature of the beast speak for itself.


This last tune was dedicated to Prophet Jennings, a great

painter and artist who lived and breathed amongst the jazz world. “Prophet’s

Motifs” walks and swings with some funky cool ass personality so Brotha Prophet

must have been quite the cat. He recently passed away but his spirit remains

alive and well in the form of his daughter who radiates beauty, spirit, color,

humor, style, happiness and all of the wonderful things that you can ask for in

life; his greatest and truest masterpiece!


 This performance was their first time playing in the

universe and yes, magic does happen. 

They are on their way to New

York City to start their tour and can’t imagine

anything but overwhelming success!


The new disc “Early Reflections” is on Cryptogramophone records and is

available for consumption. One hundred percent nutrients with no sugar added!


LeRoy Downs


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