Ben studied music at Queens College and the University of Miami. After returning to New York in 1984, he spent most of his time working with R&B and wedding bands and practicing jazz in his room. His big break came in 1986 when Jack McDuff called him (personally!) to join his band “The Heatin’ System” for some extended road trips to the Midwest and West Coast.
It was during this period that Ben developed an unprecedented tolerance for alchohol and had his first experience of being yelled at on the bandstand. He parted amenably from the McDuff aggregation (although Jack has departed this world still owing him $75 for the last gig) for an opportunity to perform in Vienna, home to many of his musical heroes, with a “fusion” unit. It was thrilling to solo over extended 1 chord vamps and eat wiener schnitzel, knowing that the ghosts of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert could be sitting just an arm’s length away!.
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