Don’t cry for the ardent swinger: the truth is, at 70, he’s in his prime – The Post

Don’t cry for the ardent swinger: the truth is, at 70, he’s in his prime

October 31st, 2013 7:04 pm| by admin

Ben Sidran Quartet
Jazzhus Montmartre,
Store Regnegade 19A, Cph K
Fri & Sat 20:00; tickets: 370kr
www.billetlugen.dk

Jazzhus Montmartre is an institution in Danish cultural life. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s the venue attracted some of the biggest jazz names from around the world, who in many cases fell in love with Copenhagen and decided to stay. This made the Danish capital one of the major jazz cities of the world – a reputation that it enjoys even to this day, with its yearly jazz festival, its thriving jazz scene and its continuing ability to attract globally-great jazz musicians. One such musician is Ben Sidran, and for two nights he will follow in the footsteps of past jazz giants such as Stan Getz, Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon by conquering Montmartre.

Sidran played his first gigs as a six-year-old boy and has not rested on his laurels ever since. Over the years he has made a name as a great jazz pianist, singer and songwriter, a skilled rock ‘n’ roll producer, an award-winning national broadcaster, a respected scholar of literature and musicology, and as an author of books about jazz.

Born in Chicago in 1943 and raised in Racine, Wisconsin where he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sidran developed a love of music from an early age. While studying at university he became a member of a band, 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 finish a degree in English literature and went on to pursue a PhD degree in American studies at the University of Sussex in England.

When the Steve Miller Band came to England the following year to record with the legendary British recording engineer Glyn Johns, Sidran found himself back on the two-track life of academia and music with his harpsichord contribution to one of the songs on the band’s debut album, Children of the Future. He has since worked with the band on several occasions and also penned the lyrics for their famous hit ‘Space Cowboy’.

Through his involvement with the Steve Miller Band, Sidran became friends with Johns and often does session work at Olympic Studios with musicians such as Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. In 1969, Johns produced Sidran’s demo tape, featuring (among others) Charlie Watts and Peter Frampton.

Sidran finished his studies in England in 1970 with a dissertation on the social function of black music in America, which was later published as ‘Black Talk’ to excellent critical reviews, but in the same year he decided to move to Los Angeles to go into the record business. He soon got his own record deal with Capitol Records and released his debut album, Feel Your Groove, in 1971. Recognising Sidran’s skills on both sides of the studio, Capitol also offered him a job as staff producer, but he declined the offer and moved back to Madison with his wife Judy.

From 1970 to 1990, Sidran released 19 albums, and in total, he has released no less than 32 albums, often to great reviews. In spite of this enormous recording activity, Sidran has also managed to develop a significant career in radio and television, producing and often hosting his own (sometimes award-winning) jazz shows. In 1990, he even increased his activities by starting his own record label, Go Jazz Records, and he has also become a renowned producer, making records for artists such as Van Morrison, Diana Ross and, of course, the Steve Miller Band. In 2001, he produced two Grammy-nominated albums: Mose Chronicles (Mose Allison) and It’s Like This (Rickie Lee Jones). His own 2000 album, Concert for Garcia Lorca, was likewise nominated for a Grammy, but lost out to Madonna’s Music.

Sidran’s latest album from April this year, Don’t Cry for No Hipster, has received excellent reviews, with some critics describing it as a masterpiece. The album forms the basis for the two concerts at Jazzhus Montmartre, where Sidran will be performing with his son Leo (drums), Billy Peterson (bass) and Bob Rockwell (tenor sax).

So if you thought that Copenhagen’s golden jazz age was over, then think twice and see for yourself when one of the world’s major jazz musicians plays one of the world’s major jazz venues in one of the world’s major jazz cities.