Although best known in some circles for writing Steve Miller’s hit song “Space Cowboy,” Ben Sidran is more widely recognized as the host of National Public Radio’s landmark jazz series, Jazz Alive!, which received a Peabody Award. He is also the host of VH-1 television’s New Visions series, which received the Ace Award for best music series. A pianist, producer, singer and composer, Sidran has recorded 25 solo albums, including the Grammy-nominated Concert for Garcia Lorca, and has produced recordings for such noted artists as Van Morrison, Diana Ross, Mose Allison and Jon Hendricks. He also composed the soundtrack for Hoop Dreams and scored the documentary, Vietnam: Long Time Coming, which won both the Aspen Film Festival Audience Award and an Emmy.
Sidran is the author of two books on jazz: Black Talk, a cultural history of the music, and Talking Jazz, a series of conversations with well-known musicians. Although he holds a PhD in American studies from Sussex University, he has generally avoided the academic life, instead preferring to spend his time performing, most recently in Europe and Asia, producing radio and records and completing his third book, the memoir, A Life in the Music published last year.
In 2003 Sidran was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Wisconsin teaching “Berlin to Kravitz: Jewish Popular Music in America.” His most recent record is Nicka’s Bump, released in 2004.