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BENNIE MAUPIN: THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN THE WORLD IS THAT PEOPLE DO NOT UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER

Elena Vladova

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Бени МаупинBennie Maupin was born on 29 August 1940 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. He is best-known for his association with Herbie Hancock and his bass clarinet playing on Miles Davis’ classic Bitches Brew album. After have studying music at the Detroit Institute for Music and Art, Maupin came to New York in 1963, making his living from commercial music while playing with saxophonists Marion Brown and Pharoah Sanders. In 1966, he played with Roy Haynes and in 1968 joined the Horace Silver Quintet. By 1969, drummer Jack DeJohnette had introduced him to Miles Davis who made his bass clarinet improvisations an integral part of Bitches Brew. He went on to play with pianists Chick Corea and Andrew Hill before joining Herbie Hancock's sextet in 1970. He played with the band that recorded the influential Headhunters, and continued with Hancock when the sextet became the funk band. He settled in Los Angeles where he has worked ever since.

Discography: (with Miles Davis) - Bitches Brew, 1969, (with Chick Corea) - Sundance, 1969, (with Andrew Hill) - One For One, 1970, (with Herbie Hancock) - Mwandishi, 1971; Crossings, 1972, Sextant, 1973, Headhunters, 1973, The Jewel In The Lotus, VSOP, 1976, Slow Traffic To The Right, 1977.

In July, 2004 Bennie Maupin was in Varna, Bulgaria. He took part in the International jazz festival (http://www.vsjf.com).

 

- You know Milcho Leviev. How did you met him?

- Actually I met Milcho in Los Angelis, I think in 1972. We were involved in playing together in a small group, in a club of L.A.

- What was the name of the group?

- I think it was "The Great expectations". The group was put together by Milcho and a very good friend of mine, the bass player John B. Williams. That's why I first met Milcho. We played in the club and after that I've seen him from time to time. He's really a great musician. He's my first friend from Bulgaria.

- Have you other friends from Bulgaria?

- I met Anatolу Vapirov this year, in March, in Francfurt.

- You said that you have been three times in Bulgaria, but only in Sofia.

- In Sofia I've just played one concert. I've never stayed long, I played the concert and I left to travel to another places around Europe.

- Did you record together with Milcho Leviev?

- No, we haven't recorded yet but I hope we'll have an opportunity to.

- Who invited you first in Bulgaria?

- I came first with the drummer Lenny White. So, I don't know how he got me the invitation but I was just part of this group.

- What can you say now about Bulgaria, after visiting the country more than once?

- I'm learning. Yes, It's true. Last night in my hotel I was looking at televison and I saw the traditional Bulgarian dancing with the music. A friend told me that it was like wedding music. So, I was listening to the music and I was trying to understand how to call the music. It's very different. The rythme is very different but just beautiful! I enjoy it very much. Now I'm going to send some CDs with traditional music to my friends.

- Do you want to use one day a little the traditional Bulgarian rythmes in your music?

- Yes, I would like to. When I go home, I'm going to call Milcho and ask him to teach me, to explain more about the Bulgarian music, because I like the feeling of it. As I was looking at the television last night, the music and the dancing was very free. It's almost like they don't go together but they do go together and they work again. I like it very much. So I hope to be able to combine some of the Bulgarian rythmes and melodies.

- What will You say about the creation of the jazz rock?

Бени Маупин на концерт във Варна (2004), сн. А. Иванов- I'm not the father of jazz rock. I would have to say that Miles Davis is more the father of jazz rock. My involvement with him on Bitches Brew, the recording, was like the beginning of the jazz rock movement in America. But I'm not the father. I'm just one of the creators maybe.

- You have travelled a lot...

- Yes, quite a bit...

- Do you have your favourite foreign country?

- I enjoy very much coming to Europe because it's so old. It really enables me to see things and to experience cultures that I haven't been expose to. So I'm really happy that this time I get to stay here, in Bulgaria, for few days. Tomorrow of course is my concert (29.07.). After I'm gonna go back to Sofia, from Sofia to Munich and from Munich to Austria to play some concerts and then I'll be going to Poland. So, It's very, very interesting for me... But I can't say wich place is my favourite place... Maybe Japan 'cause I've spend a lot of time there. I've been in Japan maybe 8 or 9 times, I've stayed there for a month sometimes or 5-6 weeks. So I had the chance to see more of that culture, Asian culture. But I've never been to China. Not yet. But I like Japan very much. The people there really love jazz.

- What must be the religion of a jazz musician?

- (laugh) It's a good question. I think that one of the reasons that I enjoy going to Japan so much is because I'm a bouddhiste. The Buddhism is practiced in Japan. The Buddhism comes from Japan. So when I go there, I meet many, many people from one organisation that is called Soka kaka

It's a world peace organisation. There are many cultural events, there are a lot of events that enable people from other parts of the world come to Japan to present music, arts. It's just a wonderful organisation. So, in 1972 I began to practice Buddhism. There are many musicians from America who are bouddhists.

- Not only musicians, actors too.

- I think we all want to create a better society and a better world through the culture, the edication the exchange of our lifes together. It brings people closer then they have. My Buddhism that I practice deals with chanting. That mean the words that we say. The words are Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Soka Kaka is all over the world, it's in a 185 different countries even here, in Europe, through Asia, Africa, of course in America. Of course it is moving quickly to introduce people in the way to have a better life as an individual and also to promote world peace. My friends Herbie Hancock, Richard Davis and others, we are bouddhists. We all practice Soka Kaka. I think that having a spiritual path or a religious philosophy to live by, it's very, very important. All is based on having respect for whatever person believеs, you don't have to bilieve what I bilieve but I respect you as a human being. Bouddhism teaches respect for all people, no matter who they are, no matter what they bilieve. It embraces everyone. World peace can only happen when people embrace each other and respect each other. Then we can begin to understand each other. I think the biggest problem in the world is that people do not understand each other. The reason for that is because they don't have a dialogue, they have no discussion, they don't share culture or tradition, So I'm very pleased to be here, to go into the Varna’s Archeological museum to see the oldest gold in the world, to go to the festival and to see very special things that are just special to Bulgaria. I feel very honnor. Thank you for taking me.

- Will you record a new albul?

- I'm working on it now. I have maybe 50 % of it finished. I have a small ensemble with percussion and drums and acoustic bass, we are 4 people. Maybe one day I can bring my ensemble here, to Bulgaria, why not in Varna.

 

 

© Elena Vladova
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© E-magazine LiterNet, 06.09.2004, № 9 (58)