All-Stars Alumnus Benjamin Ring
What do Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Buddy Rich have in common? No, it’s not a drummer joke; the answer is that they feature on the relatively short list of bandleaders who were drummers. When a jazz musician’s world is all rhythm all the time, their leadership and style has to burn even brighter than a player who gets a slice of the melody pie. Every now and then though, a drummer comes along whose leadership is as implicit as his or her style is distinctive. For the past four years of the High School All-Stars program, that drummer has been Benjamin Ring: winner of the 2016 SFJAZZ Education Award. This annual scholarship is peer-nominated in other words, the recipient is unquestionably looked up to by the ensemble as a whole (easy to understand given Benjamin’s freshman-to-senior tenure and his outrageous command of his instrument). Get to know this amazing young percussionist better in his video interview, and enjoy hearing and seeing him in the spotlight on the Miner stage.
Heading to USC’s Thornton School of Music in the fall, Benjamin is also a classically trained percussionist (timpani, vibes… the list goes on) and a talented composer. Fun fact: at one of the annual All-Stars re-auditions that former members undergo, director Paul Contos substituted the sight-reading material (a simple jazz standard) with a Frank Zappa score that “looked like a Jackson Pollack painting.” Unfazed, Benjamin merely performed the piece – the joke was on the directors that day.
SFJAZZ congratulates this incredible young player and newly minted alumnus on all his achievements this year. Check out his original piece, “I’m Not Sure,” on the All-Stars’ double album being released this August, and look for Ben stirring up the L.A. club scene beginning this fall. Here’s to the heartbeat of the band.