“You must check out this band, they are funny and they are great. They have a great future ahead of them”
Joe Zawinul - Oct 2002
“Ben Castle is one of Britain’s most respected tenor players, firmly established with his own quartet, and whose inventive solos I find really quite stimulating”
Malcolm Laycock - BBC Radio 2
“A musician who puts emotion ahead of licks”
“Plays outstandingly well”
Dave Gelly – Observer
“...watching Ben Castle on the tenor sax was one of the most erotic experiences of my life....?! I was front row, left of centre and now have neckache from watching him. Good hips.........mmmm.”
A comment posted on Jamie Cullum’s website forum
“On tenor and soprano saxophone is Ben Castle, a brilliant young musician whose failure to win either the Rising Star or Best Instrumentalist categories at the recent BBC Jazz Awards was surprising, not to say scandalous, and only proves that these 100-judge events recognise popularity more readily than talent. Ben, son of the late trumpeter-entertainer Roy, is the most impressive newcomer for years, a fluent improviser in the class of established stars such as Joshua Redman and Eric Alexander, who has a warm, slightly hoarse tone that is recognisably his own. His meaty playing adds authority to an album that bears comparison with the best mainstream-modern music around”
Jack Massarik - Evening Standard (About Geoff Gascoyne Quartet’ album ‘Autumn’)
“One of my satisfactions running Ronnie’s is hearing young musicians and I am much impressed by tenor saxophonist Ben Castle, his command of the tenor quite exceptional, particularly of the instrument’s lower register”
Pete King (Director of Ronnie Scott’s Club) - Ronnie Scott’s magazine
“Ben Castle’s muscular tenor sax tone and improvisational outings demonstrate his firm grounding in the history of the instrument. Combining this knowledge with a desire to take real chances in his playing shows a maturity that lifts him above the other talented young players”
Paul Scott - Musician Magazine
“The excellent and versatile saxophonist Ben Castle...”
John Fordham - The Guardian
Chris Parker - BBC Music Magazine
“Stand out soloist and a fine clarinetist - provided pithy and highly individual improvisations”
Chris Parker - The Times
“Ben’s tenor sax playing is brilliant, effortless, creative and very persuasive”
Steve Smith - CrossRhythms Magazine
“His emotional range is considerable and his mastery of the saxophones and clarinet very impressive. There is plenty of variety in his lines too... he is also a lyrical and warm-toned ballad performer”
Derek Ansell - Jazz Journal International
“...mighty impressive - he has a big, full tone and bagloads of ideas”
Tom Barlow - Musician Magazine
“Ben Castle’s strong, commanding lines on both tenor and soprano saxophones set the pace throughout. He blows with fluid agility, a firm, confident sound, and a nice feel for the saxophone tradition, having absorbed multiple influences. In these ways his playing is reminiscent of Chris Potter’s playing. ...stretches with some appealingly open and progressive maneuvers.”
Steven Loewy - Cadence Magazine USA
“Increasingly recognised as one of the UK’s finest up and coming saxophonists...one of Britain’s most promising jazz talents”
Peter Vacher - Jazzwise Magazine
“Ben must be one of the most important figures to emerge onto the jazz scene for years. I think that the future of British jazz is in very safe hands”
Pete Strange – Jazz Journal International
“Heart-wrenching tenor sax”
Cris O Ramos – Manilla Times
ABOUT BLAH STREET
GUARDIAN JAZZ ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Eventually we shall be able to stop mentioning that Ben Castle is the son of the late Entertainer Roy Castle, but it’s relevant in this case, because the CD is scattered with off beat musical jokes and funny noises. His word is ‘playful’ which sums it up nicely. Essentially, Castle is a very good tenor saxophonist with a calm, soulful tone, and a more than handy composer, so his musical constructions, or ‘soundscapes’ emerge as engaging entities in themselves. Even if you end up without the faintest idea of what was going on in a particular piece, you find it has kept you amused and listening. There’s plenty of good, straight jazz playing here too, especially by Castle and keyboard player Mark Edwards. The meditative, joke free piece entitled ‘All That Glitters’ is particularly impressive, as is the extraordinary, multi-tracked ‘Green Fairy’. The whole programme ends with a full minute of silence, played on a scratchy 78 record. Fitting for a man who lists his influences as John Coltrane, Bjork and Eric Morecambe
Dave Gelly – The Guardian
If the intention of Blah Street is to unnerve as well as intrigue the listener, then it amply succeeds, starting with the cover on which saxophonist Ben Castle appears beaten up and holding a police number. The palpable sense of unease continues throughout this set of many layered poriginals, mixing live instruments, samples and programmed bits but focused on creating a dark sonic landscape. The deranged circus clown tune ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ clearly hopes that you are not – as Django Bates once remarked ‘now for something less soothing’. The music sounds to me like a film score for some indie-slasher movie containing scenes with unpredictable contrasts and sudden horrors and this ‘Nightmare on Blah Street’ is embodied in Carousel, a ghostly little fairground number with vocals by Beth Rowley, sounding both innocent and very weird simultaneously. ‘An Accident Waiting For Something To Happen’ is a mashed and menacing metal tune with splendid injections of growling Hammond by Mark Edwards who did all the highly creative sampling throughout. Like his compositions, Ben’s virtuosic improvising on a number of instruments is unpredictable and always interesting whether he’s playing English jazz ballad style on soprano, freeish bass clarinet or Sanbornesque alto. More clubbing than jazz club, yet still with a nod to be-bop and swing in ‘The Heckler’ (which sounds like the Dirty Dozen on speed), the brass section of Enrico Tomasso on trumpet and Mike Innes on trombone is hot and even in the rollicking straight ahead alto solo there is still a disjointedness of effect and a manic and strange undercurrent to the music. Risky, kooky, dark and strange, with the odd cheesy lyric – like some kind of underworld where jazz-police are sent to purgatory to open their ears and change their tune
Kathy Dyson – Musician Magazine
This is probably the wierdest album I've heard in a long time! Ben Castle pushes the boundaries to the limits and if you're at all interested in cutting edge music, this is the album for you. If you've not heard any modern jazz before it might be a bit of a shock to the system, but believe me, it's worth the effort. Many of the tunes are reminiscent of children's TV theme tunes from the 70s/80s (which sounds bizarre, but really works), there are some really interesting musical ideas and the musicianship is second to none. Ben's sax playing is stunning as are the rest of the band. Amongst the highly original and comical tracks there are some beautiful tunes. A must-have album for any Jazz efficionado.
Castle has a sound mastery of the tenor saxophone and a deceptively sophisticated compositional sense
Mark Gilbert – Jazz Review
…challenging the conventional underground jazz business, breaking out and making jazz popular, cool and trendy to a new younger market.
Callum Jones – Jazz Review
All about jazz forum - jazz fan from london
Ben Castle's appalling recent release Blah Street.
For someone that I know to be a damn good saxophonist, and might have given Tubbs a run for his money, this new release is positively infantile.
What is inside is unspeakable. I have heard this guy at Ronnie Scott's playing some mean Bop Tenor Sax. The stuff on this CD at best sounds like a cross between JTQ and Kenny G (Reverb units and all). The rest is a Mish-Mash of boring pop.
Unfortunately Ben appears to have jumped on the Jamie Cullum bandwagon, and is not making a good job of it. Leave that music to Jamie - he does it better. Get back onto the Tenor and blow some Jazz.
Five pieces in 40 minutes and it's jazz. To remind everyone what jazz does the first of these is textbook stuff. Ben plays a tune on his tenor sax, then each of the band members takes a turn to develop and explore as they demonstrate utter instrumental virtuosity. Then it's back to Ben for an astounding finish. Having proved to us that they can play, the real fun begins. "Pent Up House" presents Ben pushing a pun on the word "house" beyond its limits. With a bizarre nod to Kylie's "I Should Be So Lucky" Ben wrings out his beat up tenor over a driving dance bass-line. Mark Edwards abandons the Hammond and fills in the gaps on a Korg. Tim Harries' bass, along with the hearts of the crowd, soon abandons the concept of bpm and what follows is an eccentric, technically astonishing downward spiral into jazz chaos. To restore us, and in complete contrast, a Sinatra tune follows. Ben reminds us of loveliness. In the breaks Ben does creditable stand up, including a convincing impression of Alan Partridge. "The Stalker" is a self-penned story, the chapters of which are delivered by spoken word throughout the piece. The players take their solos and Ben concludes by squeezing notes from his sax that were formerly not known to exist. The penultimate piece incorporates a Dylan Howe drum solo that would make the average six year old kick the biscuit tins in despair. To crown it all is a customised version of Brubeck's "Take Five".To begin, Ben plays it straight, then in music box parody and then defiantly heavy. Once again the gradual descent into freer jazz begins. The fall is relentless as the deconstruction becomes absolute. Mark Edwards supplies apparently random sounds and samples from the keyboards. All form departs as brilliance makes its home. Ben Castle and friends confirm the thin line between genius and insanity. A challenge to ears, minds and hearts. Thanks guys.
Stuart Blackburn – CrossRhythm