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  • Ben Sidran (2013)

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    Pianist, vocalist, songwriter, producer, interviewer and so much more, Ben Sidran was born in Chicago. Raised in Racine, Wisconsin, it was perhaps natural for him to attend the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he parlayed his early piano-playing experience into membership of The Ardells.

    When fellow Ardells members Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs followed Horace Greeley's advice and headed west for stardom, Ben went back to school, earning a degree in English Literature. What more natural, then, to go to England, where, a few years later, he received his Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Sussex. It's difficult to imagine, though, how he managed to progress academically, given his off-campus career as a busy session musician with his old friend Steve Miller again, and with British musicians such as Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, and the Rolling Stones.

    It was in Los Angeles in the early 1970s that Ben began recording as a leader, and also producing recordings for others, two things he continues to this day. He still speaks fondly of seeking out for that first recording under his own name the trumpeter Blue Mitchell, whose work he'd come to know as a member of Horace Silver's quintet in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

    Beginning in the 1980s, Ben hosted a variety of shows for NPR, including "Jazz Alive", for which he won a Peabody Award. His "Sidran on Record" series provided material for the dozens and dozens of interviews with jazz greats which compose part of "Talking Jazz". (These interviews are among those available at his web site,

    Ben has written several books "Black Talk", "A Life in the Music", and, most recently, "There was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream."

    Of Ben's 30-plus albums as a leader, there are many standouts, among them "Life's a Lesson", "The Concert for Garcia Lorca", and "Dylan Different". His newest, "Don't Cry for No Hipster", finds him writing about a guy on the back nine of life.
    Pick Artist Album Song Label
    # 1 Miles Davis Collector's Items Compulsion OJC
    # 2 Taj Mahal Maestro Diddy Wah Diddy Heads Up
    # 3 Mighty Diamonds Identity/Version Identity Joe Gibbs Music
    # 4 Pedro Luis Ferrer Cuba, I Am Time, Vol. 2: Cantar En Cuba Mariposa Blue Jacket
    # 5 Horace Silver Finger Poppin' Juicy Lucy Blue Note
    # 6 Bud Powell Time Waits: The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 4 Time Waits Blue Note
    # 7 Count Basie and Joe Williams Count Basie Swings--Joe Williams Sings Every Day I Have the Blues Verve
    Book Saul Bellow, "Humbolt's Gift", or the I Ching
    Luxury Item A 7' Yamaha grand piano
    Castaways by date
    Chris Amberger
    23 Jun
    Gerald Beckett
    01 Sep
    Buzz Brooks
    28 Apr
    Jarrett Cherner
    16 Jun
    Kev Choice
    30 Jun
    Anat Cohen
    28 Jul
    Natalie Cressman
    10 Feb
    Matt Eakle
    15 Dec
    Hershey Felder
    07 Apr
    Mitchell Feldman
    18 Aug
    Mike Galisatus
    03 Nov
    Aaron Germain
    06 Jan
    Robin Gregory
    17 Feb
    Tamir Hendelman
    13 Oct
    Kasey Knudsen
    17 Mar
    Matthew Montfort
    26 May
    Dan Montgomery
    06 Oct
    Andrea Motis
    21 Jul
    Ray Obiedo
    10 Mar
    Jayn Pettingill
    17 Nov
    John Pizzarelli
    25 Aug
    Sandi Poindexter
    24 Mar
    Don Randi
    20 Oct
    David Rogers
    24 Feb
    Eric Whittington
    29 Sep
    George Winston
    04 Aug
    Lizz Wright
    09 Jun
    Jason Yeager
    02 Jun