I'd never heard of Gorka Benitez. I'm not sure many people have. Perhaps his name is well known in insider jazz circles. After listening to this CD, "The Free Session", I would hardly be surprised if he became a household name. He is in my household now (his name, not him).
"The Free Session" caught me off-guard. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but the opening number, "Octubre 22" (penned by bassist Chris Higgins) totally woke me up and made me take notice. Each member of the group contributed to the writing of this album (including nifty short tracks consisting of one instrument playing for 30 seconds...a really clever idea). "Sketch #2" is another standout, featuring Benitez playing an Alboka...a wind instrument I'd never heard of before, but the tune itself is happy, upbeat and fascinating to listen to.
The recording of this CD is top-notch. I highly recommend listening with some good to excellent quality headphones. I would say without distraction, but I honestly do not think that is possible.
The musicians in Gorka Benitez's band are all outstanding in their own right, when defined as performers or composers. This album has more character, charm, and brought a smile to my face more often than any other I can remember in years.