Bennie Maupin & Adam Rudolph: Symphonic Tone Poem For Brother Yusef

The duo's haunting combo of ethnic music and reverberant electronics echoes 70s Miles Davis and early Weather Report


It’s not only the myriad sources of sound that inspire this two-man homage to the flautist and saxophonist Yusef Lateef but also the way such sounds can be modulated, expanded and combined by electronics to create seemingly infinite variety.

It’s the range of sonic possibility rather than any consideration of structure that makes this five-movement work by Bennie Maupin and Adam Rudolph no shorter or longer than it needs to be. In other words, it’s driven by intuition rather than intellect, which for jazz musicians is as it should be. Maupin played on Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and on Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters, and Rudolph was Lateef’s percussionist for 20 years.

Despite what one hears on the surface there’s little repetition. Maupin picks up the alto flute, soprano sax and bass clarinet among others – the spare vocalese is also his – while Rudolph is only ever a few steps away from from a Roland 606 drum machine, keyboard, glockenspiel, thumb pianos and assorted percussion as well as supplying vocal overtones.

Febrile sonorities are established in First Movement after a drone has fixed a wall of sound to which is added snatches of short figures, notably on bass clarinet. This gives way to the sparser texture of Second Movement that aids the flute’s call to order at the start and is the direct salute to Lateef’s “luminous being”, as Rudolph describes it. Once again a strong pulse arrives to energise the aural picture-making.

An element of birdsong characterises Third Movement before the motor accelerates in Fourth Movement at two consecutive speeds set by Rudolph’s hand drums. In Fifth Movement, Maupin wails on soprano before more agitato work from flute and keyboard.

First Movement; Second Movement; Third Movement; Fourth Movement; Fifth Movement (41.20)
Maupin (f, ss, bcl, v); Rudolph (kyb, d, glock, f, hp, p, v, pc). New Jersey, no date.