Ben Perowsky

After Chris Speed, Dave Binney, Ellery Eskelin, Drew Gress, Tony Malaby, Cuong Vu et Andy Laster : Ben Perowsky !

Your father is a saxophonist. He made you listened to music since your childhood ?

Yes, actually this is an interesting moment because I'm currently on the road in europe with "Joan As Policewoman" and he is on the road in europe with Liza Minelli. I think they recently played paris. he plays tenor sax and clarinet. He's the "real deal" bebopper from back when bebop was being made. Not taught in schools. We made a record together a few years ago with organist Sam Yahell called "Bop on Pop"

You played with very different groups: Salif Keita, Elysian Fields... What did that bring to your way of seeing the music and of playing drums ?

Yeah, I've always been interested in lots of different music and have been playing in really diverse settings all along. Sometimes it's so drastic that I'm even surprised. Salif was really a great opportunity for me, especially because I was already such a fan of his and had opened up for him once with my old band "Lost Tribe". That was also a good chance to play with an old friend John Medeski and Vernon Reid. Elysian Fields is a big part of me at this point. I played in that band from 1995-2002. We recently did a 10 year anniversary that was very poignant. I learned so much about songs and song writing from them and continue to today. Oren Bloedow (elysian fields guitarist/co-leader) is working on his solo record right now. Aside from meeting Joan Wasser (Joan As Policewoman) through working with them, I also met songwriter Ed Pastorini (who played piano on the first few records with e.f.). I now play in his band "101 Crustaceans" . We will also be coming out with a record hopefully this year. Another wonderful influence on me has been Jennifer Charles, elysian fields chanteuse. We recently collaborated on a couple of songs for my upcoming record "Moodswing Orchestra".

You form part of the generation of musicians like Adam Rogers, Dave Binney, Chris Speed... Does it have a spirit common to these musicians ?

Hmmm....Adam and I went to Highschool together and have been playing ever since then. We started a band called Lost Tribe in 1988 and later enlisted Dave Binney. We made 3 cds and were together for almost 11 years. Now I play with them occasionally and we are all still good friends. Chris and I started playing together in the mid 90's. We worked with Dave Douglas together and then I formed a trio with him and Scott Colley. We played a lot together and recorded a cd live at the knitting factory that i released in 1999. I also play in Chris' "Trio Iffy" along with Jamie Saft and Chris plays in my quartet which just recorded a new cd last week that i will put out hopefully next month.

Can you tell us more about "Camp Song" : why ? How ?

On the road with Uri, we were playing around at the soundchecks and realized that we both knew all the same melodies that we had learned as children in camp. Zorn had asked me if I wanted to do a record for that series and I realized that this could be a good bunch of songs to record and a fun record to make.

This project was recorded at Tzadik, you took part in "Electric Masada" : what that mean for a musician to belong to this "Radical Jewish Culture" ?

I'm not really sure what it means. You can read the quote on the inside of my record. I'm grateful to John for being so such a supportive force.

You play regularly with Bojan Z. How does your collaboration occur ?

Actually I only did a couple of tours with him and a cd that I think will be releaased this year. He is a very powerful musician and we had a really good connection. I hope to do more playing with him in the future. Oh how did it occur?....I was walking down the street in Williamsburg Brooklyn and I ran into Ari Hoenig who I hadn't seen for a long time. He asked me what I was up to and then recommended me to Bojan.

Which are the jazz places which you attends with NY to listen music?

Usually tonic. but for jazz I like the village vanguard best.

Your last musical choc ?

Right now i'm really excited about two records that I am trying to finish up to release this spring/summer. one is a quartet with Chris Speed- clarinet/tenor sax, Ted Reichman - accordion, and Drew Gress - bass. The other is a big project that has taken me four years to finish (i was working slow...and not very frequent). It has a hugh cast of people involved. It's called Mood Swing Orchestra (

Next concerts in europe ?

Well, I'm in europe right now on the road with joan as policewoman. We play barcelona on 3/17, and then amsterdam 3/18. after this I'll join Uri Caine “Mozart re-imagined” in Spain and Italy. I'll be back in May to Switzerland with Sylvie Courvoisier the amazing pianist in duo. later to join Joan again for the rest of May.

Interview by Jean Delestrade