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Published: 2014/07/12
by Ron Hart

Ben Flocks
Battle Mountain

Saxophonist Ben Flocks has been based out of New York since the late 00s, when he enrolled into the prestigious New School to earn his BFA in Jazz Performance.

But as his beguiling debut recording indicates, memories of his native California remain on his mind. Named after a famous peak of the Santa Cruz Mountains where his hometown of Bonny Doon is located, Battle Mountain is a unique blend of classic jazz and earthy grooves that defies compartmentalization. Though only 24 years of age, Flocks boasts a tone beyond his youth on the sax, exhibiting a tone steeped in the sounds of Stan Getz and Paul Desmond on sublime renditions of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” and “Murmallo” by the Buena Vista Social Club. Not to mention faithful readings of such American standards as “The Tennessee Waltz” and “Polkadots and Moonbeams,” which offer you every indication why the late, great Dave Brubeck handpicked Flocks to be a fellow at his Brubeck Institute.

Meanwhile, original material like “Eagle Rock”, “Boardwalk Boogaloo” and “Return to Battle Mountain” showcase the deft interplay Ben and his bandmates/boyhood pals guitarist Ari Chersky, drummer Evan Hughes, bassist Garret Lang and keyboardist Sam Reider experience that any fan of the Grateful Dead’s headiest instrumental space flights can wholly appreciate.

Joshua Redman hails Flocks as “one of the most important new tenor saxophonists on the scene today.” And once you give Battle Mountain a spin, you’ll understand why.

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