The streaming revolution has seen the major labels dredging up the damndest ‘extra tracks’ for inclusions on catalogue albums. One of the weirdest is Bennie Maupin’s ‘Baker Street’, which has appeared at the end of his 1978 Moonscapes record.
Of all the great 1960s and 1970s jazzmen you wouldn’t expect to go ‘disco’ – or, as my dad used to put it, ‘try to make some money’ – saxophonist Bennie Maupin would probably be near the top of the list.
His speciality was groundbreaking fusions of jazz, funk and the Avant-Garde, a key player on Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and in Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking Mwandishi and Head Hunters bands. His solo album The Jewel In The Lotus was also a key 1970s ECM release.
So what a surprise to hear him discofy Gerry Rafferty’s Brit-Yacht-Rock classic ‘Baker Street’, and take on Raph Ravenscroft’s famous sax motif – on soprano. The rest of Moonscapes is a hit-and-miss mix of Head Hunters-style fusion and spiritual jazz, with some particularly robust blowing on ‘Just Give It A Little Time’ and an interesting use of analogue synth on various tracks.
But there’s not a trace of disco, apart from on ‘Baker Street’. ‘Enjoy’ one of the strangest cover versions of the 1970s…