Ben van Gelder

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About Ben van Gelder

Dutch-born alto saxophonist Ben Van Gelder is an inventive performer known for his progressive, genre-blending approach to post-bop jazz and modern creative improvisation. Having studied under such individualistic artists as Lee Konitz and Mark Turner, Van Gelder has earned praise for his own distinctive small group albums like 2011's Frame of Reference and 2017's Among Verticals, and 2019's Mokum in Hi-Fi. Born in 1988 in Groningen, Netherlands, Van Gelder grew up in a musical household with a father who ran a record store and a mother who played classical. From a young age, he and his brother Gideon took piano lessons. It was around age 11, after seeing a concert by the New Cool Collective's Benjamin Herman, that Van Gelder made the switch to saxophone and began studying jazz. At age 17, he moved to New York City to attend the prestigious New School. There, he was able to gain valuable insight studying with forward-thinking performers like Lee Konitz, Mark Turner, Guillermo Klein, and others. He eventually returned to the Netherlands, finishing his degree work at Amsterdam Conservatory and the University of Amsterdam. Since then, he has split his time between New York and the Netherlands, playing with such luminaries as David Binney, Ambrose Akinmusire, Thomas Morgan, and Ben Street. On his own, Van Gelder leads his ensemble with vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, bassist Rick Rosato, and drummer Craig Weinrib. Together, they debuted with 2011's Frame of Reference. They returned in 2013 with Reprise, which found the group augmented by pianist Sam Harris. That same year, the saxophonist competed in the Thelonious Monk Competition. Van Gelder has been recognized for his talent, picking up such accolades as the Deloitte Jazz Award and the Princess Christina Concours for his work in a duo with his brother, pianist Gideon Van Gelder. He was also the first-ever recipient of a commission by the BIMHUIS in Amsterdam. In 2017, he released his third full-length, Among Verticals, which found him expanding his quartet with the addition of trumpeter Philip Dizack and tenor saxophonist Kyle Wilson. Smash Hits arrived the following year and documented two live performances the saxophonist gave in the Netherlands with guitarist Reinier Baas and the Metropole Orkest. Van Gelder and Baas again paired as a duo for the intimate and textured 2019 effort Mokum in Hi-Fi. ~ Matt Collar

Groningen, Netherlands
November 9, 1988

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