Ben Siems is a composer and multi-instrumentalist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. He is best known as the leader and guitarist of The WillieAugust Project jazz trio, a group that has charted as #1 New Addition on XM Satellite Radio Real Jazz, and whose recordings have been lauded in major jazz publications around the world. But as an artist with insatiable curiosity, Siems would never and could never confine himself to a single genre, even one as far-reaching and flexible as jazz. He also regularly composes and performs classical, avant-garde, and experimental music, and, at the opposite end of the music spectrum, acoustic Delta blues and folk.
After early study of piano, Siems took up the cello at age nine. Although he would eventually rise to national and international prominence as a guitarist (an instrument he began playing at seventeen, when an injury to his bowing arm had him away from the cello for an extended period), he never lost his connection to the cello or his desire to contribute to the creation of a modern repertoire for that beloved instrument. In his work with Stephen Rettner, Siems plays cello primarily, though his guitar work on a few select pieces adds appealing sonic variety.
Stephen Rettner, long based in New York City but of late back in his home town of Minneapolis, is a keyboardist, improviser, and experimental music composer. His mastery of both classical and avant-garde vocabulary insure that his playing is always surprising, but never lacking in tender, lyrical moments.