Ben Sidran

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.

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

Life and careerEdit

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.

Sidran joined Steve Miller as keyboardist and songwriter on recording projects, 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 Van Morrison Rickie Lee Jones 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 35 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, published in 2003 and detailing his musical career, </ref> Talking Jazz, a collection of his historic interviews with jazz musicians, 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 and The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma.

His 24 CD box set 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.

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.

A complete compendium of Sidran's work, live gigs, videos, productions, interviews and writings can be found at

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.[3]


Year Album Label
1970 Feel 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
1975 Free in America Arista AL-4081
1977 The Doctor Is In Arista AL-4131
1978 A Little Kiss in the Night Arista AB-4178
1978 Live at Montreux (with Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker) Arista AB-4218
1979 The Cat and the Hat Horizon/A&M SP-741
1981 Old Songs for the New Depression Baybridge ULS-6086-B; Antilles AN-1004; Go Jazz GO-6049
1982 Bop City Baybridge KUX-179-B; Antilles AN-1012; Go Jazz GO-6048
1983 Get to the Point Baybridge KUX-186-B
1985 Live 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
1986 On the Live Side (A Good Travel Agent) Magenta/Windham Hill MA-0206; Go Jazz GoJ-6008
1988 Too Hot to Touch Windham Hill WH-0108
1988 That's Life I Guess (compilation of Arista material) Bluebird/RCA 6575-2-RB
1988 Spread Your Wings and Fly Now!! (with Clementine) Little Orange Blue LOB-1001
1989 Have You Met...Barcelona? Orange Blue OB-002
1989 Cool Paradise Go Jazz GoJ-6001; Bluemoon/Rhino R2-79350
1991 Go Jazz All-Stars: Live in Japan Go Jazz GoJ-6007
1993 Life's a Lesson Go Jazz GoJ-6013
1996 Mr. P's Shuffle Go Jazz GoJ-6019
1997 Live at the Celebrity Lounge Go Jazz GO-6025
1998 The Concert for García Lorca Go Jazz GO-6033
2001 Walk Pretty: The Songs of Alec Wilder Go Jazz GO-6060
2003 Anthology (compilation) Go Jazz GO-6066
2003 Nick's Bump Go Jazz GO-6057; Nardis/Liquid8 LIQ-12139
2004 Bumpin' at the Sunside! Nardis 788925200612
2004 Sentimental Journey (compilation) Nardis/Bonsai 041103
2005 Live à fip Nardis/Bonsai 051101
2008 Cien Noches (One Hundred Nights at the Cafe) Nardis/Bonsai 081101
2009 Dylan Different Nardis/Bonsai 091101
2010 Dylan Different: Live at the New Morning Nardis/Bonsai 101002
2012 Don't Cry For No Hipster Nardis/Bonsai 121101
2014 Blue Camus Nardis/Bonsai 141001
2017 Picture Him Happy Nardis/Bonsai 170301
2018 [[Ben There, Done That"] Sunset Blvd. Records


  1. ^ a b Newsom, Jim. "Ben Sidran | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  2. ^ "Ben Sidran, 'Talking Jazz' with the Masters". NPR Music. June 30, 2007.
  3. ^ 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.

External linksEdit