How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
California native, saxophonist Ben Flocks' compositions parallel an imaginary cross-country trek via the diverse climates he conjures with these alluring compositions. Spanning intermittent similarities to guitarist Bill Frisell
's sojourns into Americana along with frothy New Orleans second line fare, spacey jazz rock, and a few quirky little ditties intermingled along the way, his debut is an impressive one, meriting considerable attention. Few artists launch their solo careers with a big bang. The album is gushing with memorable melodic content and feisty improvisational segments that outline a synchronous brew, modeled with solid musicianship, pungent grooves, and cunning arrangements.
Flocks settles the band down a few notches on the down-home slow blues, "Tennessee Waltz." Here, guitarist Ari Chersky's tremolo- induced chord voicings, dappled with a minor sting, exercise a gently sweeping undertow for the leader's deep soul blues lines, tinted with gravelly choruses. And pianist Sam Reider's twinkling piano voicings impart a sweet spot atop the mannerly pulse. Framed with a succinct storyline, drummer Evan Hughes drags the brushes across the snare drum along with a metronomic tap to reinforce the laid-back aura. Ultimately, Folds' executes a little soul-searching and gets his point across without leaving any guesswork for the listener. Nonetheless, he should be proud of his accomplishments on Battle Mountain.
Personnel: Ben Flocks: tenor saxophone; Ari Chersky: guitar; Evan Hughes: drums;
Garret Lang: bass; Sam Reider: piano, Rhodes, accordion.