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Ben Allison

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 19 albums as a leader or co-leader — Healing Power: The Music of Carla Bley (2022, Sunnyside/Sonic Camera), Moments Inside (2021, Sonic Camera), Quiet Revolution (2018, Sonic Camera), Layers of the City (2017, Sonic Camera), The Stars Look Very Different Today (2013, Sonic Camera), Action-Refraction (2011, Palmetto Records/Sonic Camera), Think Free (2009, Palmetto Records/Sonic Camera), Little Things Run the World (2008, Palmetto Records/Sonic Camera), Cowboy Justice (2006, Palmetto Records/Sonic Camera), Buzz (2004, Palmetto Records/Sonic Camera), Peace Pipe (2002, Palmetto Records/Sonic Camera), Riding the Nuclear Tiger (2001, Palmetto Records/Sonic Camera), Strange City (1999, Palmetto Records), Third Eye (1999), Medicine Wheel (1998, Palmetto Records/Sonic Camera), Dr. Cyclops' Dream (1997, Soul Note), Seven Arrows (1996, Palmetto Records/Sonic Camera), and Love is Proximity (1995, Soulnote) — 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.

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Primary Instrument

Bass, acoustic


New York City

Willing to teach

Advanced only


Since joining the faculty of The New School's, Contemporary and Performing Arts program in 2011, he has taught classes and led ensembles on subjects ranging from the music of Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Herbie Nichols and R&B to advanced concepts of improvisation and composition, as well as individual bass and composition instruction. He has developed or helped to develop four classes for the University: Entrepreneurship in Music, The Entrepreneurial Musician, Senior Seminar and Socially Engaged Artistry

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Frank Kimbrough 2003...

Palmetto Records


Moments Inside

Sonic Camera Records



Newvelle Records


Hypocrisy Democracy

Self Produced


Blue Has A Range

Sunnyside Records


Quiet Revolution

Sonic Camera Records



From: Frank Kimbrough 2003 - 2006
By Ben Allison

Knit Wit

From: Hypocrisy Democracy
By Ben Allison


From: The Stars Look Very Different...
By Ben Allison



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