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In association with DJ Amir's 180 Proof Records, BBE Music continues to bring the rarest of music to jazz heads everywhere with its latest Strata gem, Maulawi Nururdin's Orotunds, a virtually unknown and previously unreleased album. Although there is an element of mystery to almost all jazz musicians, few are ever quite as enigmatic as Maulawi Nururdin. A legendary band leader and reedist to his disciples, information about Maulawi's personal life and early years is so scarce that even his birth name remains unknown. What is known is that Maulawi was a tougher-than-nails Chicagoan by birth, inescapable mentor to others, and a virtuoso jazz musician unlike any other. The earliest notes in Maulawi's history begin on the south side of Chicago as a close associate of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians with AACM pioneers Muhal Richard Abrams, Fred Anderson, Billy Brimfield and Roscoe Mitchell. From the beginning, Maulawi was a self assured leader, unafraid to boot other musicians off stage, commandeer their instrument, and give them an impromptu lesson on how to play it right. An intimidating figure in his signature beret and goatee, Maulawi wasn't a stranger to the streets, and often spent his free time driving around, hipping his prot?g?s to real life on the Chicago south side. But it would be his reputation as a musician, and not a streetwise bandleader, that would bring Maulawi to the doors of Strata Records. "Maulawi could really, really play," says percussionist Adam Rudolph, who, at 16 years old, began practicing and playing with Maulawi in the early 1970s. It was Rudolph who would introduce Maulawi to Strata's Charles Moore, a meeting which would lead to Maulawi's self-titled 1973 debut, the first album recorded by Strata by an artist from outside of Detroit. True to the mysterious nature of Maulawi, even the story behind the recording of Ortunds is in dispute. They were either part of the 1973 sessions for Maulawi, recorded in a single night in Chicago, or from an unmixed session that took place in the Streeterville neighborhood at a later date. History aside, Ortunds never fails to astonish. Composed by Maulawi himself, Ortunds is an album of mostly Pop and R&B songs, all elevated by tip-toe funk tempos and Maulawi's wildly inventive soprano saxophone. Tracks include Thom Bell and Linda Creed's "People Make The World Go Round," as well as the Burt Bacharach and Hal David-penned classic, "I Say A Little Prayer." The title track is a drum and bass driven showcase, the perfect platform for Maulawi to strut his sublime expressionist style on the Saxophone. The album ends with a real find - a rarely heard spoken recording of Maulawi himself, introducing the players and defining the title Ortunds as "full, clearness, strength and smoothness."

 

11/08/23

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