Review

Maulawi

Orotunds

180 Proof • 2014

I don’t even want to know how much mindblowing music never reached my ears, just because it was “too far out there” at the time of its making, so that it was economically unwise to release it. Maulawi‘s »Orotunds« is a record just like that, making us hear bells ring at the very first listen. It must have been made around the beginning of the 1970s and has therefore taken around 40 years to finally get released. It’s not much that we know about Maulawi – despite being a genius on the soprano saxophone, despite his exciting interpretations of various classics and his many doings in Chicago’s jazz-scene of the 1960s and the 1970s, his role in the history of jazz is confusingly nebulous. There is only one innovative yet commercially unsuccessful album, released on Strata Records in 1974, which the musician, band leader and musical role model has left behind after his death in 1984. We could euphemistically call it a long process of maturing, when talking about the tracks on »Orotunds«, which have almost turned into dust in an archive over the last 40 years. If the album was a Whisky, we’d taste a soft and full-bodied drink on our tongue, having our taste buds explode in a thousand different colors. Because, as Maulawi explains in the outro of the record, »Orotunds« actually means »fullness, clearness, strengths and smoothness«. And really, the six long lost tracks on the limited vinyl-release (with only 1000 copies, brought to us by 180 Proof) could not be more different or more imposing. Starting out with the playful, nocturnal jazz of the opener »Maiden Voyage«, it goes on with the title track’s highspeed-soul »Where Is The Place«, a dreamy lamentation, until it reaches the pumping funk of the final »Unknown Track«. And in between, Maulawi keeps presenting new colors of sound, driven by complex yet playful compositions. Maulawi’s saxophone is gentle and at the same time expressionistic, while Michael Fuller on the drums almost seems to burst with sheer joy of experimenting. 40 years after its making, this posthumous record celebrates the joyful jazz-union of experiment and pop.