In a career that spans over 30 years, bassist/composer Ben Allison has developed his own instantly identifiable sound. Known for his inspired arrangements, inventive grooves and hummable melodies, Ben draws from the jazz tradition and a range of influences from rock and folk to 20th century and a broad range of music from around the world, seamlessly blending them into a cinematic, cohesive whole.
With his small groups, Ben has toured extensively throughout the world building new audiences with an adventurous yet accessible sound and a flair for the unexpected.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Ben has performed and collaborated with an extremely diverse range of artists including oudist Ara Dinkjian, kora player Mamadou Diabate, saxophonists Lee Konitz and Joe Lovano, Cambodian chapei master Kong Nay, legendary performance artist Joey Arias, tap dancers Jimmy Slide and Gregory Hines and US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, to name a few. He has appeared on over 50 albums by various artists and has written music for film, television and radio, including the theme for the National Public Radio (NPR) show On the Media (which boasts a listenership of over 2,000,000 people), the score for Two Days, a play written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Donald Margulies and the theme for The Conversation, a webcast talk show hosted by Pharrell Williams.
In 2005, 2008 and 2013, Ben was a featured composer, arranger and performer with Jazz Sinfonica, an 80-piece orchestra based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The orchestra performed arrangements of compositions from his various albums. Ben performed his Carnegie Hall debut as a leader in February 2012.
Called “one of today’s best young jazz musicians” by the Boston Globe and a “visionary composer, adventurous improviser, and strong organizational force on the New York City jazz scene” by JazzTimes, Ben has released 13 albums — Quiet Revolution (2018, Sonic Camera Records), Layers of the City (2017, Sonic Camera Records), The Stars Look Very Different Today (2013, Sonic Camera Records) and Action-Refraction (2011), Think Free (2009), Little Things Run the World (2008), Cowboy Justice (2006), Buzz (2004), Peace Pipe (2002), Riding the Nuclear Tiger (2001), Third Eye (1999), Medicine Wheel (1998) and Seven Arrows (1996) on Palmetto Records — all of which showcase Ben’s forward-thinking vision as a bassist, composer, arranger, producer, and mixing engineer, as well as his hands-on approach to his craft.
7 of Ben’s albums have reached #1 on the CMJ national jazz radio charts, often remaining in the top 10 for many weeks, garnering him 8 SESAC National Performance Awards. His album Action-Refraction was named one of the Best Albums of 2011 (of any genre) by NPR and Time Out New York. His albums have consistently been named as among the best of the year by publications such as Billboard, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, Jazz Times, Jazz Journalists Association, Downbeat Critics Poll, All About Jazz, Coda (Canada), Jazzit (Italy) and Jazz Review (UK), among many others.