Ben Sidran – The Swing’s the thing…
Ben Sidran – Swing State – Nardis #BON220501 – 41:57 – ****
(Ben Sidran – piano; Billy Peterson – bass; Leo Sidran – drums)
Ben Sidran is a true “renaissance” talent. At age 78, Ben has done it all. In addition to his piano talents, Sidran has taught as a university professor, hosted a popular NPR radio show, and written several books (including Talking Jazz, where he interviewed numerous famous jazz musicians, and held his own with Miles Davis, no small feat). He has recorded over 30 albums as a leader, as well as performing as a sideman for an illustrious list, including Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs, Van Morrison, and Richie Cole.
His song writing talents are comparable to Mose Allison, and Dave Frishberg for hipness. And as evidenced on his latest release for Nardis, Swing State, the man can swing with the best of them. Backed by his son, Leo Sidran, on drums, and Billy Peterson on bass; Ben gets into a relaxed groove on six standards and his own title cut.
What is immediate is a warm tone, a strong sense of swing, and an inquisitive read on what can be blase in less imaginative hands. Ben wears his heart on his sleeve on “Over the Rainbow,” while “Laura” has a lush sophisticated feel. “Ain’t Misbehavin” has the requisite easy going vibe.
Other tracks show Sidran’s mastery of stride and blues piano idioms. His son, Leo Sidran, shows deft stick work, while Billy Peterson’s bass is as steady as it goes.
Ben Sidran is a cool (now elderly) cat. On his new CD, his fans will be put into a Swing State with a smile on their face.
Lullaby of the Leaves
Stompin’ at the the Savoy
Over the Rainbow
Laura (Alt Take)