photo by: B.Dumetz

ALTADENA - When Bennie Maupin was a tiny fellow growing up in
Detroit he'd skip down a few blocks every afternoon and squat under an open window where he'd listen to an old neighbour play the saxophone. He'd close his eyes and pretend to play a stick, the way his neighbour made magic on that saxophone, fantasising mellow notes skimming tree tops and brushing stars. Playing sax had become his obsession.
Now, many moons later, "Saxophonist Bennie Maupin and Friends", will be featured at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art's "Jazz at the Museum", a series of summer Jazz concerts at the Times Mirror Central Court.
Maupin, 52, grins broadly as he about his music. "
I grew up round rhythm. Lots of it. Gospel, classical, jazz and the blues ," he said softly. "My environment exposed me to good music and taught me its value. I learned from the finest."
Maupin, who lives in Altadena, studied at the Detroit Institute of Music while working part time and playing, with groups in Detroit. That was until the night the
Four Tops, a musical group, heard him play and asked that he join them for a New York gig.
"This was the chance of a lifetime," he recalled. "Most of my friends had gone to New York. It was easy to leave that job and go on tour with the Four Tops. We played the Catskills in upstate New York, 500 Club in New York City and other famous night spots.
When the engagement finished, Maupin continued playing with various bands in New York City. "This was the night life. Jazz! Music! I couldn't believe it. I was meeting Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie and other musical giants who would come to watch us play," he said.While in New York he recorded With
Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock.

Leaving the Big Apple 10 years later, Maupin headed for Los Angeles and was based in Hollywood where the bulk of rehearsing, television appearances and recording took place. On a trek to San Francisco he merged with Herbie Hancock, creating the album "Headhunters," which has sold more than 1 million copies and has earned both gold and platinum status. Maupin also composes and arranges, and is studying film scoring and composition with Lyle (Spud) Murphy.

He and his wife, Barbara, have a 2-1/2-year-old son, Toussaint. "Many musicians live in Altadena," said Maupin. "This is a cultured community."

By: Tess Christler Thursday, July 22, 1993 ALTADENA / PASADENA



The Jewel In the Lotus
Slow Traffic to the Right
ECM 1043 ST
Mercury SRM 1-1 148
Mercury SRM 1-3713

with Headhunters :

Survival of the Fittest
Straight From the Gate
Closer Together
Artista 4038
Arista AB 4146
Arista AB (unreleased)

with Herbie Hancock:

Treasure Chest
Death Wish
Warner Brothers - 1898
Warner Brothers - 2617
Warner Brothers 2807
Columbia KC 32212
Columbia KC 32731
Columbia PC32965
Columbia PC 33199
Columbia PC 34280

with Miles Davis :

Bitches Brew
Jack Johnson
On the Corner
Big Fun
Columbia GP 26
Columbia KC 30455
Columbia KC 31906
Columbia PG 32866

with Jack De Johnette:

The DeJohnette Complex
Have You Heard?
Milestone MSP 9022
Milestone MSP 9029
Prestige P- 10081

with Eddie Henderson:

Inside Out
Capricorn 0119
Capricorn 0122
Blue Note BN-LA464-G
Captial SW-1146



The Headhunters Return of the Headhunters (Verve)


The debut release on Hancock Records, a new imprint headed by Herbie Hancock and David Passick under the Verve umbrella, will be the long-awaited reunion of the Headhunters, the seminal funk-jazz group Hancock started in 1973, and which subsequently influenced generations of music-makers. Return of the Headhunters marks an inspired continuation of the popular and acclaimed sound forged by Hancock and his mates, reed player Bennie Maupin, bassist Paul Jackson, drummer Mike Clark, and percussionist Bill Summers. The primary keyboard duties were handled by Billy Childs, with additional input from pianists Patrice Rushen and Darrel Smith.

Hancock himself makes special guest appearances on almost half of the album's tracks, as does guitarist and new Verve Forecast signing, JK, who also co-produced the album with the band. JK is regarded as one of the freshest young creators and interpreters of the new funk sound. As Hancock, who was instrumental in helping launch the reunion, explained it, "We wanted to take a '90s approach to the basic sound of what the Headhunters were about. Rather than try to recreate something we did, we wanted to take the elements of the personalities of the musicians and the way they are now, and put a '90s spin on it." Maupin concurred: "I think the balance of it is there, and that we achieved what we set out to do."

The reunited Headhunters explore a broad range of musical expression. The new album reflects the players themselves, older and wiser, but no less funky. The material veers from the gutsy funk-making of the opening "Funk Hunter" and "Skank It" to the hybrid R&B of "Watch Your Back" and "Tip Toe", featuring vocalist N'dea Davenport (formerly of the pop/R&B group Brand New Heavies) on both tunes and rap artist Trevant Hardson (of the experimental hip-hop group The Pharcyde) on the former. The musical landscape also becomes more experimental and improvisational on tracks like "Premonition", with Maupin on his signature bass clarinet, and "Two But Not Two", featuring Clark's loose, swinging style.

For this project, Summers explained, "We tried to go into some unknown territory with this record, and, at the same time, give listeners what is reminiscent of the Headhunters they remember. I think it's very important that they hear that sound, that they hear funky bass by Paul Jackson and the grooves of Mike Clark."

Although they haven't played together in nearly 20 years, the Headhunters sound has never really left the musical scene. "I have always considered the reunion of the Headhunters as unfinished business," Jackson notes, "and am very happy to be back with my friends who have been an important influence in my musical life." Recently, their music has influenced a new generation of listeners via the acid jazz and progressive dance scene, which reveres their funky work. In the '70s, the band recorded three albums with Hancock and two without him, and toured the world. Although Harvey Mason was the original drummer on the Headhunters debut in 1973, Mason left the group after the album to pursue his session career and Clark has been the band's drummer ever since. The rhythmic hook-up between Clark and Jackson is at the heart of the group's powerful pulse. Clark noted, "Paul and I have this special, invisible radar. We don't even have to talk. We make up these intense, displaced grooves and it's totally spontaneous and improvisational. We don't talk about it or rehearse it; we just count if off and hit it and it's always been like that."

By combining groove-oriented material and other styles, Maupin asserted that the band intended to present "something that everybody could enjoy. We've always thought of ourselves as presenting music that's really for the people."

Return of The Headhunters is the first step in the rebirth of one of the great groups to have come to fruition during the '70s, and one that combined populist appeal with artful musical instincts. The hiatus is over.


Headhunters TOUR with special
guest Herbie Hancock
Montreux, Switzerland
Montreaux Jazz
Torino, Switzerland
Torino Jazz
Paris, France
L'Elysee Montmartre
The Hague,
North Sea Jazz
Molde, Norway
Norway Jazz Fest
London, UK
Jazz Cafe
London, UK
Barbican Centre
London, UK
Jazz Cafe
Hitachinaka, Japan
Ocean Blue Jazz
Osaka, Japan
Sankei Hall
Tokyo, Japan
Koseinenkin Kaikan
Tokyo, Japan
Koseinenkin Kaikan
Yokohama, Japan
Kenmin kaikan


Bennie Maupin plays:
SDSystems wireless



April 17, 2001