Ben Sidran

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Ben Sidran
Birth nameBen Hirsh Sidran
Born (1943-08-14) August 14, 1943 (age 76)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Jazz, rock
Occupation(s)Musician, producer, label owner
InstrumentsPiano, organ, vocals
Years active1944–present
Labels Blue Thumb, Arista, Windham Hill, Go Jazz, Nardis
Associated acts Steve Miller Band

Ben Hirsh Sidran (born August 14, 1943) is an American jazz and rock keyboardist, producer, label owner, and music writer. Early in his career he was a member of the Steve Miller Band.


Life and career

Sidran was raised in Racine, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1961, where he became a member of The Ardells with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs. [1] When Miller and Scaggs left Wisconsin for the West Coast, Sidran stayed behind to earn a degree in English literature. After graduating in 1966, he enrolled in the University of Sussex, England, to pursue a PhD. While in England, he was a session musician for Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, and Charlie Watts.

In San Francisco, Steve Miller invited Sidran to join his band after keyboardist Jim Peterman left. [1] Sidran joined as keyboardist and songwriter, appearing on the albums Brave New World , Your Saving Grace , Number 5 , and Recall the Beginning...A Journey from Eden . He produced Recall the Beginning and co-wrote the hit song "Space Cowboy." In 1988, he produced Miller's jazz album Born 2B Blue. He has also produced albums for Mose Allison and Diana Ross. [1]

Sidran returned to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1971 and has spent most of his life there. He taught courses at the university (on the business of music) and beginning in 1981 hosted jazz radio programs for NPR (including the Peabody Award-winning Jazz Alive series) and TV programs for VH1 (where his New Visions series in the early 1990s won the Ace Award). [2]

As a musician and a producer he has released over 30 solo recordings. 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 commentary while playing music.

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] [3]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Ben Sidran among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [4]


1970Feel Your Groove (with Blue Mitchell) Capitol ST-825
1971 I Lead a Life Blue Thumb BTS-40
1972 Puttin' in Time on Planet Earth Blue Thumb BTS-55
1973 Don't Let Go Blue Thumb BTS-6012
1975Free in America Arista AL-4081
1977The Doctor Is InArista AL-4131
1978 A Little Kiss in the NightArista AB-4178
1978Live at Montreux (with Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker)Arista AB-4218
1979The Cat and the Hat Horizon/A&M SP-741
1981Old Songs for the New DepressionBaybridge ULS-6086-B; Antilles AN-1004; Go Jazz GO-6049
1982Bop CityBaybridge KUX-179-B; Antilles AN-1012; Go Jazz GO-6048
1983Get to the PointBaybridge KUX-186-B
1985Live at the Elvehjem Art Museum (with Richard Davis)Cryonic MAD-3018
1985 On the Cool Side (Heat Wave)Magneta/Windham Hill MA-0204; Go Jazz GoJ-6009
1986On the Live Side (A Good Travel Agent)Magenta/Windham Hill MA-0206; Go Jazz GoJ-6008
1988Too Hot to TouchWindham Hill WH-0108
1988That's Life I Guess (compilation of Arista material) Bluebird/RCA 6575-2-RB
1988Spread Your Wings and Fly Now!! (with Clementine)Little Orange Blue LOB-1001
1989Have You Met...Barcelona?Orange Blue OB-002
1989 Cool Paradise Go Jazz GoJ-6001; Bluemoon/Rhino R2-79350
1991Go Jazz All-Stars: Live in JapanGo Jazz GoJ-6007
1993Life's a LessonGo Jazz GoJ-6013
1996Mr. P's ShuffleGo Jazz GoJ-6019
1997Live at the Celebrity LoungeGo Jazz GO-6025
1998 The Concert for García Lorca Go Jazz GO-6033
2001Walk Pretty: The Songs of Alec WilderGo Jazz GO-6060
2003Anthology (compilation)Go Jazz GO-6066
2003 Nick's Bump Go Jazz GO-6057; Nardis/Liquid8 LIQ-12139
2004Bumpin' at the Sunside!Nardis 788925200612
2004Sentimental Journey (compilation)Nardis/Bonsai 041103
2005Live à fipNardis/Bonsai 051101
2008Cien Noches (One Hundred Nights at the Cafe)Nardis/Bonsai 081101
2009 Dylan Different Nardis/Bonsai 091101
2010Dylan Different: Live at the New MorningNardis/Bonsai 101002
2012Don't Cry for No HipsterNardis/Bonsai 121101
2014Blue CamusNardis/Bonsai 141001
2017Picture Him HappyNardis/Bonsai 170301

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  1. 1 2 3 Newsom, Jim. "Ben Sidran | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  2. 1 2 "Ben Sidran, 'Talking Jazz' with the Masters". NPR Music. June 30, 2007.
  3. His autobiography, Ben Sidran: A Life in The Music, was published in 2003 and provides details on his musical career.
  4. Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.