Sidran, Ben 1943–

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Sidran, Ben 1943–

(Ben H. Sidran)

PERSONAL: Born August 14, 1943, in Chicago, IL; son of Louis W. and Shirley G. Sidran; married Judith Lutrin (a weaver), July 10, 1969; children: Leo. Education: University of Wisconsin (now University of Wisconsin—Madison), B.S. (cum laude), 1966; University of Sussex, M.A., 1968, Ph.D., 1970.

ADDRESSES: Office—P.O. Box 763, Madison, WI 53701. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Musician, record and television producer, singer, and composer. University of Wisconsin—Madison, lecturer, 1973–74; WMTV, host of The Weekend Starts Now, 1973–74; WTTW-TV, artistic director of jazz programming for Soundstage, 1975–76; National Public Radio, host and artistic director of Jazz Alive radio series, 1981–83, contributor to All Things Considered radio program, 1983–85, host and producer of Sidran on Record, 1985–90, producer of Jazz Profiles, 1996–99; VH-1 Television Network, host of New Visions television series, 1988–91. Go Jazz record label, founder, co-owner, and producer; Nardis Music, cofounder and producer, 2003. Member of Wisconsin Arts Board; member of board of advisers on Popular Music and Society at Bowling Green State University; artist-in-residence, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 2003. Also produced television programs for Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Art Blakey, Johnny Griffin, Chico Hamilton, Jon Hendricks, Eddie Jefferson, and Annie Ross.

MEMBER: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Musicians Federation.

AWARDS, HONORS: Peabody Award, 1982, for Jazz Alive radio series; International Radio Festival winner, 1986, for Sidran on Record; ACE Award for Best Cable Music Series, 1989, for New Visions; Sundance Audience Award and New York Film Critics Award, both 1994, both for Hoop Dreams soundtrack; Aspen Film Festival prize, Emmy Award, and Dramatists Guild of America Award, all 1998, all for Vietnam: Long Time Coming soundtrack; Grammy Award nomination, 2000, for Concert for Garcia Lorca; Parents' Choice Award, 2003, for El Elefante.


Black Talk, Holt (New York, NY), 1971, published with new foreword by Archie Shepp, Da Capo Press (New York, NY), 1981.

Talking Jazz: An Oral History, Da Capo Press (New York, NY), 1995.

Ben Sidran: A Life in the Music (autobiography), Taylor Trade (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to Rolling Stone, Esquire, Jazz Magazine (France), and Swing Journal (Japan).


Feel Your Groove, Capitol, 1971.

I Lead a Life, Blue Thumb, 1972.

Puttin' in Time on Planet Earth, Blue Thumb, 1973.

Don't Let Go, Blue Thumb, 1974.

Free in America, Arista, 1976.

The Doctor Is In, Arista, 1977.

A Little Kiss in the Night, Arista, 1978.

Live at Montreux, Arista, 1979.

The Cat and the Hat, A&M, 1980.

Get to the Point, Polystar, 1981.

Old Songs for the New Depression, Island, 1982.

Bop City, Island, 1983.

Live with Richard Davis, Madrigal, 1984.

On the Cool Side, Windham Hill, 1985.

Have You Met Barcelona?, Orange Blue, 1986.

On the Live Side, Windham Hill, 1987.

Too Hot to Touch, Windham Hill, 1988.

Cool Paradise, Go Jazz, 1990.

Life's a Lesson, Go Jazz, 1994.

Hoop Dreams (documentary soundtrack), 1995.

Mr. P's Shuffle, Go Jazz, 1996.

Go Jazz All-Stars, Go Jazz, 1997.

Live at Celebrity Lounge, Go Jazz, 1998.

Vietnam Long Time Coming (documentary soundtrack), 1998.

Concert for Garcia Lorca, Go Jazz, 2000.

Walk Pretty: The Music of Alec Wilder, Go Jazz, 2002.

El Elefante (bilingual CD for children), Liquid 8 Records, 2003.

Bumpin at the Sunside, Nardis Music, 2003.

Nick's Bump, Nardis Music, 2004.

Sentimental Journey, Bonsai Records, 2004.

Live at FIP, Bonsai Records, 2005.

Also contributed to early albums by the Steve Miller Band, including the song "Space Cowboy." Produced recordings for jazz and pop artists, including Van Morrison, Mose Allison, Georgie Fame, Jon Hendricks, Tony Williams, Rickie Lee Jones, and Diana Ross.


Jazz Legends: Live at the Palais des Festivals Hall, Cannes, France, 1989, 2004.

On the Live Side, 2004.

In Concert at Ohne Filter, Germany, 1995, 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Though primarily renowned as a gifted pianist, composer, and producer, among other musically related roles, Ben Sidran has also made a name for himself as a writer. Sidran's first book, Black Talk, is based on his doctoral dissertation. After twenty-four years, the musician published a second book, Talking Jazz: An Oral History, which presents personal interviews with such jazz greats as Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins. For his third literary endeavor, Sidran not only relates the details of his eclectic career in his autobiography, Ben Sidran: A Life in the Music, but also delves into issues of race and music, the technological advancement of society, and how music's many roles create varied personal musical experiences. Sidran shares with readers tales of interactions with many great names in soul and rock, including Steve Miller, Miles Davis, and Diana Ross, highlighting memorable moments in the history of music since the 1960s. Library Journal contributor James E. Perone observed that the artist writes with "fluid prose and a keen insight into pacing—much like a fine jazz performance." Perone concluded that "this book is an unqualified winner." In a Booklist review, Mike Tribby described Sidran as "a vital musical force," adding that "his literate autobiography reveals a pop musician in touch with the rest of the world."

Sidran once commented: "Nobody has ever written a really first-rate book about what it is like to be a musician in this country. I hope to write that book. I travel constantly (as a pianist and singer), performing for audiences large and small. I see this as my research as well as my current vocation."



Sidran, Ben, Ben Sidran: A Life in the Music, Taylor Trade (New York, NY), 2003.


Bloomsbury Review, November, 1993, review of Talking Jazz: An Oral History, p. 24.

Booklist, February 1, 2003, Mike Tribby, review of Ben Sidran: A Life in the Music, p. 963.

Downbeat, October, 1993, review of Talking Jazz, p. 59.

Essence, July, 1993, review of Talking Jazz, p. 30.

Library Journal, January, 2003, James E. Perone, review of Ben Sidran, p. 114.


Ben Sidran Home Page, (December 9, 2005).

University of Wisconsin—Madison Web site, (January 15, 2003), Mary Carbine, "Sidran to Teach, Perform."