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Ben Sidran is an American jazz and rock pianist, organist, vocalist and writer born in Chicago, noted for his work with the early Steve Miller Band. While pursuing a PhD degree in American Studies in England, Sidran was a session musician for artists that included Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Charlie Watts.
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."
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