“One must approach the hip experience with a lifetime of preparation” writes Ben Sidran in the liner notes to Don’t Cry For No Hipster. If ever there was an example of an artist who lives the song he sings, Sidran is that example, and he has indeed approached his latest recording with a lifetime of preparation. Hipster is his 35th solo record, and on this one, he delivers twelve new original songs.
The contemporary concept of the Hipster, the counter-cultural, progressive pickler, self-styled “cat on the corner wearing the hat so small it makes his head look big” (as Sidran says), is largely associated with Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sidran, who identifies himself with an earlier wave of Hipsters – those associated with bebop, philosophy and good smoke – decided to visit the epicenter of the current zeitgeist for the recording. He and his son, Leo, who played drums and produced the project, assembled a cadre of Brooklyn characters to record at The Bunker Studio in Williamsburg. The musicians, Tim Luntzel, Will Bernard, John Ellis, Orlando le Fleming, Mark Shim, and Moses Patrou, came to the music with a fresh enthusiasm and a classic sense of deep groove.
Ben Sidran is widely recognized as the host of National Public Radio’s landmark jazz series “Jazz Alive”, which received a Peabody Award, and as 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, he has recorded thirty-five solo albums, including the Grammy nominated Concert for Garcia Lorca, and produced recordings for such noted artists as Van Morrison, Diana Ross, Michael Franks, Rickie Lee Jones, Mose Allison and Steve Miller (with whom he co-wrote the hit song “Space Cowboy”). He is the composer of the soundtrack for the acclaimed film “Hoop Dreams,” and scored the documentary “Vietnam: Long Time Coming,” which won both the Aspen Film Festival audience award and an Emmy. Sidran has authored two books on the subject of jazz, Black Talk, a cultural history of the music, and Talking Jazz, a series of conversations with inspirational musicians. He holds a PhD. in American Studies from Sussex University, Brighton, England, but has studiously avoided the academic life, preferring instead to spend his time performing, producing and writing. His latest works include the memoir, A Life in the Music and the groundbreaking text There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream, along with the recordings Dylan Different and Don’t Cry For No Hipster.
A review from Chris Spector, editor and publisher of Midwest Record: BEN SIDRAN/Don’t Cry for No Hipster: I haven’t heard all 35 of Sidran’s albums, but this is the first one where he sounds comfortable in his own musical skin. Turning his inner Mose Allison loose in Brooklyn, the underlying concept here is old school hipster meeting new school hipster and letting the fur fly as world’s collide. It works. It’s delightful. It colors so gleefully outside the lines that the vibe and the energy are irresistible. If this is what he’s been working toward all these years, no one can tell him it wasn’t a life well spent. This would be a penultimate set for anyone. Killer stuff.