Ben Sidran

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Ben Sidran
Birth name Ben Hirsh Sidran
Born (1943-08-14) August 14, 1943 (age 73)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Jazz, rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Piano, organ, vocals
Years active 1944–2003, 2004–present

Ben Hirsh Sidran (born August 14, 1943) is an American jazz and rock pianist, organist, vocalist and writer born in Chicago, Illinois, noted for his work with the early Steve Miller Band.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Sidran was raised in Racine, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1961, where he became a member of The Ardells along with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs. When Miller and Scaggs left Wisconsin for the West Coast and stardom, Sidran stayed behind to earn a degree in English literature. After graduating in 1966, Sidran enrolled in the University of Sussex, England, to pursue a PhD degree in American Studies.

Sidran rejoined Miller in an English recording studio the next year, playing on the 1968 album Children of the Future. While in England, Sidran was a session musician for artists who included Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Charlie Watts. Following the departure of Scaggs and Jim Peterman from Miller's band in 1969, Sidran joined as a full-time keyboardist, appearing on the albums Brave New World, Your Saving Grace, Number 5 and Recall the Beginning...A Journey from Eden. After a brief stint in Los Angeles, where he began his career as a recording artist (teamed with Scaggs and drummer Jim Keltner) and record producer, Sidran returned to Madison in 1971 and has kept the university town as a home-base ever since, playing often with such Madison-based talents as drummer Clyde Stubblefield and keyboardist-composer Leo Sidran, Sidran's son. Over the years, while continuing to travel, perform and produce, he taught courses at the university (on the business of music) and, beginning in 1981, hosted a variety of jazz programs for NPR (including the Peabody Award-winning Jazz Alive series) and for VH1 television (where his New Visions series in the early 1990s won the Ace Award.)

As a musician and a producer he has released 34 solo recordings and collaborated with jazz and pop artists who include Mose Allison, Van Morrison, Diana Ross, and Rickie Lee Jones. His written works include the book Black Talk (on the sociology of black music in America), the memoir A Life in the Music, Talking Jazz, a collection of his historic interviews with jazz musicians and There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream, a cultural history of the Jewish contribution to American popular music during the 20th century and a finalist for the 2012 National Jewish Book Award.

Sidran has been referred to by the Chicago Sun Times as a "Renaissance man cast adrift in a modern world", and by The Times as "the first existential jazz rapper", in reference to his preferred mix of humorous, erudite commentary while playing grooves and bebop. He continues to lecture at universities, most recently on the subject of "Jews, Music and the American Dream".

Talking Jazz includes an 80-page booklet with essays from writers, critics and musicians, classic photos from Lee Tanner, and 24 compact discs featuring conversations with 60 jazz musicians, recorded during a five-year period for Sidran's award-winning NPR program Sidran on Record. The 24 CDs orchestrated by Sidran document the speaking voice of jazz musicians, including Miles Davis, Art Blakey, and others.[2]


Year Album Label
1971 Feel Your Groove, with Blue Mitchell Capitol/EMI
1972 I Lead a Life Blue Thumb
1973 Puttin' in Time on Planet Earth Blue Thumb
1974 Don't Let Go Blue Thumb
1976 Free in America Arista
1976 That's Life I guess Bluebird/RCA
1977 The Doctor Is In Arista
1978 A Little Kiss in the Night Arista
1979 Live at Montreux Arista
1980 The Cat and the Hat Horizon Records
1981 Get to the Point Polystar
1982 Old Songs for the New Depression Island
1983 Bop City Island / Go Jazz
1984 Live with Richard Davis
1985 On the Cool Side Windham Hill
1986 Have You Met...Barcelona? Orange Blue
1987 On the Live Side Windham Hill/BMG
1988 Too Hot to Touch Windham Hill/BMG
1990 Cool Paradise Go Jazz
1994 Life's a Lesson Go Jazz
1996 Mr. P's Shuffle Go Jazz
1997 Go Jazz All-Stars Go Jazz
1998 Live at Celebrity Lounge Go Jazz
1999 The Concert for García Lorca Go Jazz
2002 Walk Pretty: The Music of Alec Wilder Go Jazz
2004 Nick's Bump Nardis Records
2005 Bumpin' At The Sunside Nardis
2006 Live à fip Bonsai Music
2008 Cien Noches Nardis
2009 Dylan Different Nardis
2010 Dylan Different Live at the New Morning Bonsai Music
2013 Don't Cry for No Hipster Nardis
2015 Blue Camus Nardis


  1. ^ "Ben Sidran | Biography". AllMusic. August 14, 1943. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ His autobiography, Ben Sidran: A Life in The Music, was published in 2003 and provides details on his musical career.

External links[edit]