Fellows Look Back - Ben Flocks

Ben Flocks, is a saxophonist, composer and educator from Santa Cruz, currently living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was a Brubeck Fellow in 2007-08 and 2008-2009. He shared the memory of meeting Dave Brubeck for the first time and another written Dec. 6, 2012, upon hearing of Dave Brubeck's death. (http://www.benflocks.com/)

Meeting Dave Brubeck, 2007:

Dave Brubeck is my hero. The opportunity to play music with him and learn from him was one of the greatest honors I've ever had.

Dave and Iola Brubeck share a moment with former Brubeck Fellow Ben Flocks. Photo courtesy of Ben Flocks.

I remember the first time I played with Dave Brubeck. Dave was visiting Stockton, Calif., and we had a rehearsal in Owen Hall at University ofthe Pacific with the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet for an upcoming show at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City. Dave sat down at the piano and we rehearsed Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train," which we were set to perform. After we played the song, Dave said, "You guys are so burning!"

Everyone in the band couldn't stop smiling, we were all having so much fun. Rehearsal was scheduled to end, but Dave wanted to keep playing with us, so we jammed on a few more tunes. I'll never forget the way Dave made us feel. I've never known a kinder and more joyful person. He was a positive influence on everyone around him.

Dec 6, 2012: Last night I heard the incredible Cuban pianist Chucho Valdez play alongside three other piano masters at Carnegie Hall. Of all the amazing music that was played, there was one moment in the concert that struck me. At the end of an extended improvisation, Chucho played the melody from Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo A La Turk."

Today, I'm extremely saddened to hear news of Dave's passing. Dave was the most beautiful person I've ever met, always smiling and always playing music. Dave had a profound and positive impact on musicians and people all over the world. He has been my hero since I met him when I was 15, and while studying at the Brubeck Institute I met people I'll love forever and had experiences that I'll never forget.

My thoughts are with all of Dave's family and friends. Thank you Dave Brubeck, we'll keep playing music and loving life just as you did every day.