Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Perowsky, Ben

Perowsky, Ben, drummer, percussion, electronics; b. New York City, NY, 12 May 1966. His father is saxophonist/clarinetist/arranger Frank Perowsky (b. ca. 1935). Frank played with Woody Herman, Billy Eckstine, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band, Buddy Rich, Bill Watrous, Philly Joe Jones, various Latin bands, Broadway shows, and still freelances around NYC. His mother was a ballet dancer who enjoyed Sly Stone.

Ben received his first drum set at age five and was playing with his father as a young teen. He saw Philly Joe Jones and Art Blakey many times in person and enjoyed Keith Moon on film. Ben's album Camp Songs is based on Jewish prayer songs that he learned as a child while attending summer camp in upstate New York. Bobby Thomas,a family friend, was a major mentor and teacher. He studied at the High School of Music and Art and then Berklee College, where he studied with Alan Dawson. Ben was soon performing with James Moody (1985 at the Village Vanguard), then Rickie Lee Jones (tour of Europe and Israel), then in 1988-9 Roy Ayers. He toured with Mike Stern 1990-4. He has often worked with Dave Douglas since 1997, and cofounded the funk-fusion group Lost Tribe. The Ben Perowsky Trio, initially formed in 1997 for a weekly engagement at the Knitting Factory's Tap Room, features bassist Scott Colley and saxophonist Chris Speed.

Recently, he has carved out new musical territory with an instrumental group called Moodswing Orchestra, mixing acoustic with electronics, composition and improvising. Other long term collaborations have been with Danny Blume's groundbreaking dub/electronica group, Liminal, the critically acclaimed songsmiths of Elysian Fields and Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra. He also has been playing drums behind songstress/violinist Joan Wasser as well as songwriter/pianist Ed Pastorini. As a freelance artist some of the musicians on his expanding roster include: guitarists Pat Martino, Mike Stern, Vernon Reid and John Scofield, Steely Dan's Walter Becker, The Velvet Underground's John Cale, award winning trumpeter Dave Douglas, ubiqitous pianists Uri Caine and John Medeski and reedists Bob Berg and Don Byron. He also played percussion and wore a suit in John Lurie's Lounge Lizards and recorded with Afro-popstar Salif Kieta. He also works with his father on occasion.

Ben has also composed/collaged/performed music for modern dance that has been presented at Creative Time (Brooklyn Anchorage), Context, Next Stage, Dixon Place, the Knitting Factory and Lincoln Center. Ben teaches by private instruction. He endorses Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks, and Pete Engelhart Percussion Berkeley CA.

Lost Tribe: Lost Tribe (1993), Soul Fish (1994), Many Lifetimes (1998); Ben Perowsky Trio: Get The CD! (1999); Ben Perowsky/Uri Caine/Drew Gress: Voices in the wilderness (2003), Great Jewish Music: Sasha Argov (2003), Camp Songs (2003); Frank/Ben Perowsky: Bop On Pop (2003); Ben Perowsky, Markus Miller, Glenn Patscha (2004)
As sideperson:
Roy Ayers: Fast Money (1988); Christian Minh Doky: Appreciation (1989); Bob Berg: Backroads (1991); Jim Beard: Song of the Sun (with Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, Don Alias, Mino Cinelu) (1991); Mike Stern: Odds or Evens (1991), Standards (1992); Ralph Bowen: Movin' On (1992); The Fertile Crescent: The Fertile Crescent (1992); Spanish Fly: Rags to Britches (1992); Ronnie Cuber: Cubism (1992), Airplay (1992); Dave Kikoski: Persistent Dreams (1992); John Cale/Bob Newirth: Last Day on Earth (1994); Walter Becker: 11 Tracks of Whack (1994); Mike Stern: Is What It Is (1994); Charles & Eddie: Chocolate Milk (1995); John Zorn's Cobra: Live at the Knitting Factory (1995); Elysian Fields: Bleed Your Ceder (1996), EP (1996); Spanish Fly: Fly by Night (1996); David Tronzo Trio: Yo! Hey! (1996); John Cale: Walking on Locusts (1996); Elysian Fields: Black Acres (unreleased, 1997); Liminal: Preset (1997); Robert Dick/ Soldier String Quartet: Jazz Standards on Mars (1997); Dave Douglas: Magic Triangle (1998); The Whistling Hangmen: Barhopping (1998); The Lounge Lizards: Queen of All Ears (1998); Pat Martino: All Sides Now (1998); Evan Lurie: How I Spent My Summer Vacation (1998); Liminal: EP (1999); Uri Caine: The Sidewalks of New York (1999); Dave Douglas: Live at Birdland (1999); Mike Stern: Play (with Bill Frisell and John Scofield) (1999); Salif Kieta: Papa (1999); Elysian Fields: Queen of the Meadow (2000); Chris Speed Trio: Iffy (2000); Roy Nathanson: Fire at Keaton's Bar & Gril (with Deborah Harry, Elvis Costello, Charles Earland, 2000); Dave Douglas: Leap of Faith (2000); Oren Bloedow/Jennifer Charles: La Mar Enfortuna (2001); Joseph Arthur: Redemption's Son (2002); Tonic: Live at Tonic (2002); Elysian Fields: Dreams That Breath Your Name (2003); Raz Mesinai's Badawi: Clones and False Profets (2003); Tom McIntosh: With Malice Toward None (with Benny Golson, James Moody, Kenny Barron, Richard Davis, Buster Williams) (2004); Joan As Policewoman: Joan As Policewoman EP (2004); Michael Polesney: Stoneboat (season of St.Lucy) (2004); Uri Caine Trio: Live at the Vanguard (2004)
Roy Ayers live at Ronnie Scott's in London; Steve Khan Trio live at the Bottom Line; Modulations - an electronic music/techno documentary

Michael Parillo: Update. Ben Perowsky Jazz Compass, in: Modern Drummer (Feb.1998)
Bill Milkowski: HearSay. Ben Perowsky, in: Jazz Times (Nov.1999)
Paul De Barros: "Ben Perowsky Trio" (JazzKey Music), in: Down Beat (Feb.2000)
Michelle Mercer: "Ben Perowsky Trio" (Jazz Key), in: Jazziz (Mar.2000)
Owen Cordle: Ben Perowsky & Frank Perowsky & Sam Yahel - "Bop on Pop" (JazzKey), in: Jazz Times (Apr.2003)
Ken Micallef: Ben Perowsky. Beyond Labels, in: Modern Drummer (Mar.2003)

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