Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Dowling, Ben (Rogers Benjamin), keyboardist, composer, producer; b. Fayetteville, Arkansas, 14 February 1956. While a toddler, he moved from Arkansas to Briarcliff, NY (parents divorced there in 1963). In 1968, his mother (born Margaret Purcell, 1928), a brother and two sisters (Christopher, b. 1954; Erin, b. 1957; Claudia, b. 1952) moved to Bennington, VT. His father, naturalist and zoologist Herndon Glenn Dowling (b. 1919), remained in New York as curator of Reptiles at the Bronx Zoo, and later the American Museum of Natural History and NYU.
Dowling, who was noted as an infant to have unusual musical ability, studied piano from age 7-10, organ at 12 from Reinhoud vanDerLinde, and began teaching himself blues and jazz piano at age 15. Eventually, he studied piano improvisation from Ran Blake at New England Conservatory, and spent two years at Boston University where he was a piano performance major and co-founded the Boston University Jazz Ensemble in 1974. Performed extensively on the local Boston jazz club circuit from the mid to late 1970's.
In 1979, he joined a jazz quartet featuring noted New York bassist, Santi DeBriano playing on cruise ships in the Caribbean. While playing in the islands, he was introduced to various Caribbean musics: salsa, rumba, cha-cha, meringue, reggae, calypso and others. In Lake Tahoe and later San Diego, CA performed extensively in rock, pop and top 40 bands.
In San Diego, he studied piano, composition and arranging from composer Victor Saucedo (Southwestern University) and from Academy Award Nominated pianist/composer Calvin Jackson - as his protege'.
With the introduction of programmable music synthesizers in the early 1980's, Dowling became an early expert in the realm of sound synthesis. Joining Korg in 1986 as a clinician and later R&D specialist, he was a key developer of some of the most popular synthesizers in history, including the Korg M1, Korg Wavestation and many others. Elevated to head up the Los Angeles R&D center in 1990, Dowling became a synthesis algorithm designer, as the first and only musician to design physical modeling synthesis algorithms for Korg. Also during this time was a member of the music faculty and e-music advisory board of UCLA Extension.
Leaving Korg in 1995, Dowling established Visionsound, Inc. for music production, music performance and as a consulting company for the musical instrument and entertainment industries with clients ranging from Yamaha, Korg, and Aureal Semiconductor to Madonna, Michael Jackson, Don Henley, Josef Zawinul, Dave Grusin, Herbie Hancock and many others.
Dowling has remained very active as a musical director, pianist, keyboardist, producer and composer. Dowling won multiple gold and platinum records, a Golden Eagle for the musical score composed for the official documentary of the United Nations 50th Anniversary, and has performed in various context with such players as Ndugu Chancelor (sp), Al McKay, Alphonzo Johnson, Byron Miller, Mike Shapiro, Narada Michael Walden, Freddie Ravel, Victor Bailey, Jeff Beal, Brandon Fields, Mindi Abair, Dave Carpenter, Luis Conte, Rahmlee Michael Davis, Joey Heredia, Larry Dunn, Brenda Eager, Niki Haris, Carl Anderson, Pedro Eustache, Alex Acuna, Cecilia Noel, Grant Guisman, Marshal Hawkins, John Leftwitch, Bobby Lyle, Mike Miller, Kevin Ricard, Oscar Castro-Neves, Munyungo Jackson, Bill Sharpe, Kim Stone, Ellis Hall and many others.
He has performed at top international venues worldwide, as a regular member of former Earth, Wind & Fire guitarist, Al McKay's Allstars and with other top jazz and pop acts.
Ahimsa (2001); The Path of Peace DualDisc (2007); Session musician on hundreds of records including "Dangerous" and "History" by Michael Jackson.
Kathleen Gibson: Jungle Bungalow (1997); Equator: Equator (1998);
JD Martin: One Heart (2000); Jami Lula: Something's Calling Me (2001);
David Newman: Soul Freedom (2003); Korg Oasys Demo: Love Embraces All (2005);
Ester Nicholson: Child Above the Sun (2006);
Charles Holt: I Am (2007);
Visionsound: The Path of Peace Multimedia (2007)
Synthesis and Sound Design (UCLA Extension 1995, 1996, 1997);
The Linear Development of Sound (UCLA Extension 1994);
Making the Most of the Workstation Environment (UCLA Extension 1991, 1992, 1993)