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.
Track Listing: Battle Mountain; Shenandoah; Don't Think Twice It's Alright; Eagle rock; Murmullo; Silver City Bound; Polkadots and Moonbeams; Boardwalk Boogaloo; Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You; Tennessee Waltz; Return to Battle Mountain.
Personnel: Ben Flocks: tenor saxophone; Ari Chersky: guitar; Evan Hughes: drums;
Garret Lang: bass; Sam Reider: piano, Rhodes, accordion.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.