Bennie Maupin's Cryptogramophone label follow-up CD to Penumbra both parallels and provides a departure from that excellent effort. What is similar is the softer tone Maupin is displaying in his far post-Headhunters days, refined by experience and cured though wisdom. The music Maupin plays on this beautiful effort is even more subdued, as he collaborates with an ensemble of relatively unknown musicians from Poland. If you've been hearing recent efforts from Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko and his ECM recordings with the teenage pianist Marcin Wasilewski and his trio, you hear stark similarities. But further, the recently reissued Maupin epic Jewel in the Lotus, which was also on ECM, is quite different than this ECM sounding project. Old may in fact be new again in some respects, but in this case, new is really new. Maupin offers so much appealing music within the undercurrent, starting with the delicate but paced "Black Ice" and the waltzing title track with Maupin on soprano sax. Separate flute and piano lines are woven into a more somber waltz "Tears," or the sparse, spacy, long "Spirits of the Tatras" with dynamics patiently rendered up and down with lots of piano from Michal Tokaj, who rivals the crystalline musings of Wasilewski on the entire album.
Reflections of a Golden Dream is the last LP Lonnie Liston Smith cut for Flying Dutchman and it's hard not to see the record as an aural manifestation of the label's shifting fortunes. As the jazz marketplace shifted during the '70s, the label had its financial hand forced and they needed to abandon their esoteric ways for something that was a bit more commercial. Of all their artists, Smith was the best positioned to do this because he already struck upon a blend of the spiritual and funk with 1975's Expansions. Released a year later, Reflections of a Golden Dream tips the scales a bit closer to funk, opening up with a Sly Stone workout called "Get Down Everybody (It's Time for World Peace)," a cut where Lonnie takes a rare vocal lead.