Ben Winkelman is a composer from Melbourne living in New York City. Ben writes his own music exploring his musical interests from a jazz perspective.
Ben combines Afro-Cuban, gospel and classical music, with a focus on Latin rhythms in unexpected meters. His music has been described as “One big, interconnected thing of beauty”.
Ben was born in Eugene, Oregon, USA, and grew up in Melbourne, Australia. His love of music began as a toddler when he listened obsessively to the Fiddler On The Roof and Magical Mystery Tour albums.
His interest in jazz began in his early teens when he discovered John Coltrane and Oscar Peterson records in his father’s collection. His first gigs were on drums at age 14 in an anarchist/animal rights punk band, but around the same time the jazz bug was starting to bite.
While at music school he was asked to join a salsa band, a chance encounter that sparked an enduring interest in Latin music.
Ben's first jazz releases feature some of his compositions influenced by stride piano and early jazz, perhaps the effect of genetic memory: his grandmother, the daughter of Jewish Romanian immigrants, played in an all-girl dance band in 1930s Newark. In 2010 he moved to New York, hoping to be challenged by a larger music scene and not starve in the process.
He found his feet playing for an African-American church and in spite of the brutal winters and failing subway system he is enjoying the stimulating musical environment in his new home.