Bay Area pianist/composer Ben Stolorow’s first album, I’ll Be Over Here (2008), has been called a “beautiful, introspective body of work reminiscent of some of the greatest piano trios” by Susan Muscarella (founder/director of the Jazzschool in Berkeley, CA). Ben’s latest album, Almost There (2011), brings the sensitivity and lyricism of the first album as well a new fire and emotional intensity, reflecting Ben’s desire to find for himself and to share with the listener the freedom, release, and renewal which he feels can be achieved through making music. Joining Ben on this album are two beautiful Bay Area musicians, Dan Feiszli on bass and Jon Arkin on drums.
As the title suggests, this album takes the listener on a journey, and the feeling of being on the way to someplace unknown is a theme that drives the music throughout. Of the album’s ten tracks, seven are Ben’s original compositions. The remaining three tracks are renditions of Thelonious Monk’s “Hackensack”, the standard “You and the Night and the Music”, and a bonus track which is a vocal song entitled “Firefly”, written and performed by Ben’s sister Stephanie Stolorow with Ben accompanying.
Ben has spent many years studying classical piano and the great jazz pianists and composers, as is evidenced by his compositions and playing on his latest album. With the variety of touch and range of expression that one can hear in his music, he displays the wide scope of his influences, from Bach and Bill Evans to Thelonious Monk and McCoy Tyner.
Shortly after graduating from UC Berkeley in 1998, Ben was awarded the Hertz Travelling Fellowship by the music department there to live and study in New York. Since that time he has continued to travel to New York regularly and has been fortunate to receive guidance from great contemporary pianists including Fred Hersch, Stanley Cowell, James Williams, and David Hazeltine. Ben still practices Bach and other classical music, and continues to devote himself to the study of the great jazz pianists and composers. The feeling of being always “almost there” continues to drive him to improve himself and search for his own voice in music.
Since moving to the Bay Area from Los Angeles to attend UC Berkeley in 1994, Ben has become one of the most in demand jazz pianists in the area both as a leader and sideman. He has performed at Yoshi’s, The Jazzschool, and the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, at the Healdsburg and SF Jazz Festivals, at Oakland’s Art and Soul Festival, and has also toured and performed throughout Japan. He has performed with many great musicians including Craig Handy, Akira Tana, Danya Stephens, Lorca Hart, Andrew Speight, Vince Lateano, Noel Jewkes, Michael O’neill, and vocalist Kenny Washington. Ben is also a faculty member of the Jazzschool in Berkeley, CA.