“2 Families – 1 Groove” – Mordecai Spektor, American Jewish World, 8/12/15
Although best known in some circles for writing Steve Miller’s hit song “Space Cowboy”, Ben Sidran is more widely recognized as the host of National Public Radio’s landmark jazz series “Jazz Alive”, which received a Peabody Award, and as the host of VH-1 television’s “New Visions” series, which received the Ace Award for best music series.
A pianist, producer, singer and composer, he has recorded twenty five solo albums, including the Grammy nominated “Concert for Garcia Lorca,” and has produced recordings for such noted artists as Van Morrison, Diana Ross, Mose Allison and Jon Hendricks. He composed the soundtrack for the acclaimed film “Hoop Dreams” and scored the documentary “Vietnam: Long Time Coming,” which won both the Aspen Film Festival audience award and an Emmy. He is the author of two books on the subject of jazz, “Black Talk,” a cultural history of the music, and “Talking Jazz,” a series of conversations with well known musicians.
Although he holds a PhD. in American Studies from Sussex University, he has generally avoided the academic life, preferring instead to spend his time performing—most recently in Europe and Asia— and producing radio shows and records. His latest works include the memoir, “A Life in the Music” and the groundbreaking text “There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream,” along with the recordings Dylan Different and Don’t Cry For No Hipster.
In September of 2003, Liquid 8 Records launched the jazz label Nardis Music (www.nardismusic.com) with Ben Sidran. Among its first releases was Ben’s own “Nick’s Bump.” 2004 saw Ben as the composer, along with Leo Sidran, of original score for the award winning documentary “All Deliberate Speed,” which chronicles the landmark 1954 Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Ben’s most recent release is “Don’t Cry For No Hipster.” This record, called “Olympian” by one enthusiastic reviewer, captures the Hip attitude and aesthetic through twelve original compositions and two covers. Recorded in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the summer of 2012, it is perhaps the most intimate and personal of Sidran’s thirty plus solo albums.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“An extraordinary tour de force, weaving cultural, political, musical and economic history. Part textbook, part family history, Sidran is a warm, funny, and authoritative guide in this thrilling, adventurous social history of popular music. A must-read for all music-lovers.” —Daniel J. Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain On Music, reviewing Sidran’s latest book Jews, Music and the American Dream
“One of those rare characters celebrated as much for their intelligent pronouncements on jazz as their ability to play it” -BBC