Ben Bierman | Some Takes on the Blues

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Some Takes on the Blues

by Ben Bierman

I’ve played many styles and genres of music throughout my career, but the blues has been the one constant in my musical life—in many ways everything I have to say filters through it. These are some of my takes on the blues.
Genre: Blues: Jazzy Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Bolero Blues
4:26 album only
2. Carmel Meets Shrader
4:06 album only
3. Pretty Blues
3:57 album only
4. Leo's Rag
2:08 album only
5. Valeria Street Blues
3:17 album only
6. Let's Chill One
5:01 album only
7. Ac Shuffle
3:28 album only
8. Blues for Wc
3:00 album only
9. Dum Dee Dim
3:47 album only

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
After years as a road warrior, including stints with blues maestro Johnny Copeland (and B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Robert Cray along the way), Latin music stars such as Johnny Pacheco and Johnny Colon, as well as jazz bands, circus bands, and Midwest territory dance orchestras, trumpet player and composer Ben Bierman has come up with a take on the blues all his own. These nine original compositions incorporate a wide range of influences and an open-minded approach that goes far beyond the traditional 12-bar form. Bierman’s Some Takes On the Blues is a very personal record that beautifully combines thoughtful composition and an improvisational vibe, and just as importantly, it’s a fun and pretty album that’s great at a party and for chilling at home. The record also features Ben’s work as a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, piano, and bass, as well as his lyrical trumpet.

Ben Bierman is a Brooklyn-based trumpet player, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. In his compositions he incorporates elements of jazz, blues, Latin music, and the Western art music tradition. Along with Some Takes On the Blues, his music can be heard on Beyond Romance: Songs by Ben Bierman (New Focus Recordings FCR 141). As a trumpet player, he has performed with a wide array of artists, including Johnny Copeland, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Pacheco, Machito, Johnny Colon, Archie Shepp, and Arthur Blythe. He is the author of Listening to Jazz (Oxford University Press), has essays in numerous books and journals, and is an Associate Professor at John Jay College, City University of New York. Bierman considers all of these activities to be important parts of who he is as a musician.

1. Bolero Blues (4:24) A fun and funky Latin boogaloo-inspired jam with percussionist Willie Martinez.
2. Carmel Meets Shrader (4:05) A Count Basie-Kansas City style 12-bar blues duet with Nashville guitarist Andy Reiss.
3. Pretty Blues (3:54) A mellow multi-section composition that includes a 32-bar blues.
4. Leo’s Rag (2:08) A finger picking solo guitar rag.
5. Valeria Street Blues (3:15) An old-school slow blues with Andy Reiss and drummer Terry Silverlight.
6. Let’s Chill One (5:00) A chill-vibe 48-bar blues with percussionist Emanuel Bierman.
7. AC Shuffle (3:26) A country blues-style duet with Bierman on guitar and trumpet.
8. Blues for WC (2:59) A mellow and pretty multi-strain solo piano blues composition with W.C. Handy in mind.
9. Dum Dee Dim (3:47) A multi-section piece that changes feels constantly, including cha cha chá, a 6/8 feel, rumba, and swing. Percussionist Willie Martinez makes it work.
Total time: 33:12

Liner Notes:
I’ve played many styles and genres of music throughout my career, but the blues has been the one constant in my musical life—in many ways everything I have to say filters through it. These are some of my takes on the blues.

A little more....
These are all original compositions of mine, and I think it's a really fun record. I compose and play in many styles and genres, but here I have gone back to my earliest roots while also bringing to this music everything I have done as a musician over the course of a forty + year career. Also, a big part of what I've been doing lately has to do with being a multi-instrumentalist. I've always been primarily a trumpet player, but here I play keyboards, bass, and, for the first time on record, guitar.

As a kid growing up in the Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s and '70s the blues was all around me. The various bars and coffe houses in the neighborhood were filled with blues (John Lee Hooker, Lightning Hopkins, Charlie Musselwhite) and my friends and I were always at the Fillmore and the Fillmore West which had incredible lineups of blues bands. Buddy Guy blew my mind first, and Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Magic Sam, Otis Rush, BB King, Albert King, Freddie King, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, and Canned Heat did too, as well as many more. For some reason the music spoke to me more than the rock acts did, which were also all around me.

I was also listening to records constantly, and the early blules artists all impressed me with how open they were about what styles of music they played - it was all the same to them. I spent countless hours learning their guitar styles off of records (including having to figure out what tunings they were using). Taj Mahal was a contemporary artist that was (and still is) doing that as well, as were most of the people I liked. So this record is in that spirit

I don't have a definition of the blues, and don't care to, but something in the spirit of the blues inspired each of the tunes on this record. This is who I am, and represents a long and incredibly varied career in music that has included a degree in how to hang on the corner with the older players all the way to a Ph.D. in composiiton. I think of myself as a street corner Ph.D., and am just as proud of my corner chops as I am of my academic chops (all that came very late in life).

A few close and long-time friends have joined me here, and so has my oldest son, Emanuel, who plays cajon on Let's Chill One. For a blues album, I had to get together with one of my oldest friends (actually from kindergarten!), guitarist Andy Reiss. Andy is a top player in Nashville (he's played with everyone, and he is a founding member of The Time Jumpers, the top Western swing group there is), and we had a ball recording at his place. We hadn't played music together for 50 years, but it felt like it was just yesterday. Drummer/percussionist Willie Martinez is also an old, old friend. He is one of the most in-demand Latin percussionists in NYC, and he rocked Bolero Blues and completely pulled together the various feels on Dum Dee Dim. Drummer Terry Silverlight (he has also played with everyone and is one of the earliest fusion drummers) and I have played many gigs together over the years, and having him on here is an honor and a pleasure. And needless, to say, working with my son Emanuel is one of my favorite things to do.
credits
released March 15, 2019

Ben Bierman: trumpet, keyboards, guitar, bass
Thank you to the wonderful musicians who helped me with this project.
Andy Reiss: guitars on Carmel Meets Shrader; co-composer, guitar, and bass on Valeria Street Blues
Willie Martinez: drums and percussion on Bolero Blues and Dum Dee Dim
Terry Silverlight: drums on Pretty Blues and Valeria Street Blues
Emanuel Bierman: cajón on Let’s Chill One

Recorded January 2016-September 2017 at Plaza Street Music. WC Blues recorded at Park West Studios July 18, 2017.
Mixed by Jim Clouse, Park West Studios
Mastered by Fred Kevorkian, Kevorkian Mastering, Inc.
Design: Marc Wolf (marcjwolf.com) Photos © Todd Weinstein
© all rights reserved

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