mask of the muse
“Mask of the Muse” finds saxophonist Ben Flocks stepping into a dreamworld – there’s mystery here, deep moods, abundant melody and a rich quality of romance. Assisted by his superb young band – and especially by guitarist Ari Chersky, who doubles as producer here – Flocks takes us on a tour of his dreamworld. He and Chersky have picked a bunch of fabulous old, melody-drenched songs associated with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Roy Orbison (“Dream”), Billie Holiday (“Dream of Life”), Grant Green (“Street of Dreams”), Sam Cooke (“Smoke Rings”) and the Platters (“Ebb Tide”), not to mention Jackie Gleason whose theme song (“Shangri-La”) is a curveball that works. As a unifying device, Flocks bookends the 12 tracks by calling up mythic images related to the creative process: muses and angels and the artist’s quest to harness the duende, that primal force that “burns the blood like powdered glass,” as the poet Federico Garcia Lorca once put it.