Ben Sidran (born August 14, 1943) is an American jazz and rock pianist, organist, vocalist and writer born in Chicago, noted for his work with the early Steve Miller Band (best-known for having written the Steve Miller hit song "Space Cowboy"). That makes him a couple of months older than me, so obviously not a newbie on the block.
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 album "Children of the Future." While in England, he was a session musician for artists that included Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Charlie Watts. 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 90s won the Ace Award.)
As a musician and a producer he has collaborated with artists that 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," and "Talking Jazz," a collection of his historic interviews with jazz musicians.
Sidran has been referred to by the Chicago Sun Times as a "Renaissance man cast adrift in a modern world," and by the Times of London 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." [Wikipedia]
Well finally he has tackled Dylan. And what a revelation, both in style and execution. But mainly I believe that Ben Sidran has re-interpreted Dylan like no other has before him. This truly is a must have album for any Ben Sidran fan, any Jazz fan, any Rock fan, any Bob Dylan fan. Here's a couple of tracks to give you food for thought.
Video of the recording of "Highway 61" from the new album "Dylan Different" of Ben Sidran - feat Rodolphe Burger, Marcello Giuliani, Alberto Malo, Leo Sidran - released by Bonsaï Music in November 2009.
Tangled up in Blue
2nd video of the recording of the album Dylan Different, new Ben Sidran's album studio released by Bonsaï Music/Unlimited Media Ltd (Harmonia Mundi) in November, Feat Rodolphe Burger, Marcello Giuliani, Alberto Malo.