Pianist, composer, producer, educator and broadcaster Sidran will show why he's been the keyboardist of choice for everyone from Steve Miller to Van Morrison when he gets down jazz-trio-style at the Old Mill Inn Monday (January 12) at 8 pm.
What's Van Morrison like to collaborate with in the studio?
He's exactly as he appears to be onstage. He never does anything the same way twice. Everything put down in the studio is done live, so whatever you play will likely end up on the finished record.
The New Train album you produced for Paul Pena in 1973 should've been a massive success. Instead, Steve Miller hit big with Jet Airliner, while Pena's better original version sat in the vault for 27 years. What happened?
Because Paul refused to move to Woodstock, New York - which is partly what Jet Airliner is about - Albert Grossman, who ran Bearsville Records, decided not to release the record. In 1973, I was producing Steve Miller's Recall The Beginning album and played him a cassette of Paul's songs. Steve liked Jet Airliner so much, he bought the publishing from Paul and recorded his own version of it, changing a few words. Paul made a lot of money when it hit big, but I know he was very bitter about having his record shelved.
Have you got a new book in the works?
Funny you should ask. I taught a course about Jewish popular music in America, from Irving Berlin to the Beastie Boys, so the book is about that. I'm trying to address the question of how it's possible for a minority group that never made up more than 3 per cent of the population to contribute 80 per cent of popular music.
What's planned for the Toronto date?
These days I've been doing a lot of talking at my shows. It's kind of like an open-ended verbal jam on history, philosophy and social science, driven by the rhythm of the band. I was recently called "the first existential jazz rapper" in a London paper, and that's not far off the mark. It's unlikely that I'll play Space Cowboy, but anything can happen.