When asked about the saxophonist Ben van Gelder, the pianist Aaron Parks describes him as “just a monster. One of my favorite alto players around today, period.” JazzTimes praises his “flowing facility on the horn and fresh ideas,” and ArtsJournal proclaims, “he is one of those rare young musicians who establishes his individuality in three or four notes.”
Ben was born and raised in the Netherlands by a musical family. He studied at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and The New School, the latter of which included lessons with the master reedist Lee Konitz. It wasn’t long before the saxophonist started making waves in the local scene, sharing the stage with artists like David Binney, Ambrose Akinmusire, Aaron Parks, and John Escreet, among others. Ben’s talents have also been recognized by institutions; he was an NFAA Stan Getz/Clifford Brown Fellow in 2005, and received the Deloitte Jazz Award in 2008.
Last year, Ben self-released his debut album as a leader, Frame of Reference, which features the pianist Aaron Parks, the vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, the bassist Rick Rosato, the drummer Craig Weinrib, as well as guests Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet) and Kyle Wilson (tenor saxophone). Praised for making a “strong impression” by JazzTimes, the album has received accolades from the international press.
Watch a video of Ben’s quintet performing the Thelonious Monk composition, “We See.”