Ben Dowling

Ben Dowling


A pianist's pianist, Ben Dowling plays funk with Earth,Wind & Fire's Al McKay, jazz with Mindi Abair and Will Kennedy, ambient multimedia with painter, Mark Wagner, gospel with the Agape Choir, and has programmed for Joe Zawinul and Michael Jackson.


Jazz pianist and composer Ben Dowling takes the long view when it comes to music and his artistic-life journey. Born in Arkansas, raised in New York, Vermont and Boston but settled in Los Angeles, Dowling smiles at his conflicting geographical history, "so I'm this Southern white boy who knows how to shovel snow, design synthesizers and play funk. Go figure..."

The one thing this player does figure is how to push music to the next level. Whether from the synthesizers he's designed (Korg M1, Wavestation, Oasys, etc.), the multimedia and film projects he's scored (United Nations documentaries and interactive games), or in his producing and keyboard playing, Ben knows how to push the envelope forward while being true to the musical essentials.

"It truly is not about me. It's about the music and where it needs to go," he says.

With "World Rising," his new CD to be released on August 11, 2009, Ben takes his music exactly where it needs to go - creating a refreshing Weather Report-inspired, Herbie Hancock-like fusion of jazz, world and funk with top jazz talents including Mindi Abair, the late Carl Anderson, Niki Haris, Will Kennedy, Satnam Ramgotra, Bob Sheppard and a host of other friends from the World Music and Funk universes. World Rising is getting a substantial lift this summer with radio play and targeted performances in the US, in addition to Ben's appearances at the Montreax Jazz Festival and at concert venues across Europe and Asia.

Trained in classical piano and organ at an early age, Ben discovered the music of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett at 14, later studying improvisation from Ran Blake at New England Conservatory, piano performance at Boston University and composition from pianist, composer and jazz educator Calvin Jackson.

As a jazz pianist, a synthesizer programmer and in all his musical endeavors - Ben has had quite a ride from playing funk with Earth, Wind & Fire's Al McKay to programming sounds for Madonna and Weather Report's Joe Zawinul, to his wide-ranging discography including recordings with Tom Coster, Freddy Hubbard, Yellowjackets, Jon Anderson (Yes) and the late Michael Jackson - while performing worldwide at top venues including: Lincoln Center, The Greek Theater, Hollywood Bowl, the Montreax, Umbria, Jakarta and Mt. Fuji Jazz Festivals.

World Rising is thematic of a lifelong mission of bringing different creative elements together in new and innovative ways. "Real innovation comes from bringing things together that don't usually keep company and taking the time for inspiration to reveal itself," Ben says. "That is how new synthesizers are designed, and that is how new ideas grow. Entirely new forms spring forth." Another example might be Ben's 2007 multimedia project "The Path of Peace" with painter, Mark Wagner. An ambient art collaboration, it casts Ben's solo piano improvisations with visual artist Mark Wagner's video scoring of his original paintings, drawings, sketches - garnering rave reviews from around the world.

"With World Rising, I wanted to design a new kind of World-Soul music that is really great to move to, that breaks new ground creatively and that really lends itself to live performance. I'm so tired of music being over-planned, over-produced and over structured. Lip-syncing and air guitar are fine for video games, but I want to see players take some risks. World Rising is my way of returning the jazz form to its tradition of "open arrangement" so we can perform at a higher level – more available to the magic that makes live performance such a life-changing event."


Love Embraces All

Written By: Ben Dowling

A girl
For all intents and purposes a child
Believing that some thing she's done
Forever takes away
Her innocence inside

She's lost
Forgetting there's a part of her that can't be compromised
Leading from within
And that

Love Embraces All

A boy
Longing for the things he should have done
Believing he's beyond the point of no return
He's broken all the rules

He's lost
Without the understanding that love will find a way
He'll find it out one day
And that

Love Embraces All

Ooo, Can't you feel it
Something deep inside you're here to give
Moving from the things we love
Into the love we live
Brings us to a place where we can see
That in the end
This love is meant to be

Love Embraces All


Tom Coster: "Did Ja Miss Me" - 1989 (programmer)
Freddy Hubbard: "Times Are Changin'" - 1989 (programmer)
Tom Coster: "From Me To You" - 1990 (programmer)
Starr Parodi: "Change" - 1991 (programmer)
David Patt: "Intimate Notions" - 1991 (programmer)
Greg Walker: "Love You So Good" - 1991 (producer)
Michael Jackson: "Dangerous" - 1991 (programmer)
Yellowjackets: "Greenhouse" - 1991 (programmer)
Michael Jackson: "HIStory" - 1995 (keyboardist/programmer)
Kathleen Gibson: "Jungle Bungalow" - 1997 (producer)
Equator: "Equator" - 1998 (producer)
JD Martin: "One Heart" - 2000 (producer)
Suzanne Teng: "Mystic Journey" - 2001 (keyboardist)
Jami Lula: "Something's Calling Me" - 2001 (producer)
Benjamin Dowling "Ahimsa" - 2001 (artist/producer)
David Newman: "Soul Freedom" - 2001 (producer)
Al McKay: "Live at Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival" - 2003 (keyboardist)
Al McKay: "Live In Europe" - 2004 (keyboardist)
Korg Oasys: "Love Embraces All" - 2005 (artist/producer)
Andre Delano: "Full Circle" - 2005 (keyboardist/producer)
Ester Nicholson: "Child Above the Sun" - 2006 (producer)
Ben Dowling/Mark Wagner "The Path of Peace DualDisc" - 2007 (artist/producer)
Charles Holt: "I Am" - 2007 (producer)
Ben Dowling: "World Rising" - 2009 (artist/producer)

Session player on many recordings

Set List

Jazz • World • Funk Project
Groove basis, modal, funky, ethnic, cool harmonics, structured horn parts. Material is flexible to adapt to guest soloists, etc. Long song format with lots of orchestration, breakdowns, grooves, solos, etc. Soloing supports the groove rather than the other way around. Performances are ALWAYS different. We don't re-perform our recordings. Love to bring in players on the festival to play along, since reading is minimal but structure is strong.

Songs Include:

World Rising
The Calling
Spirit Dance
Love Embraces All
Gathering of the Tribes
Medicine Man
In My Dreams