The who, what, where, when, why and how I became involved in music.
Who am I? I'm Ben Lowman, a saxophonist (soprano/ alto/ tenor) based in Leeds who doubles on flute & clarinet. My specialism is Jazz saxophone, which I studied at Leeds College Of Music (2008 - 2011). Since graduating with a BA Hons, I have worked in various musical settings, from original jazz projects to functions & pit/show work.
I have three big passions within music, they are: performance, composition/arranging & education.
I've spent a lot of time developing my playing, and of course I'm always continuing to push my musical/technical abilities and to further my skills as a performer and composer. My most current project I have been fortunate enough to be involved with has been the band 'Perpetual Motion Machine,' where we have just released our debut album 'Ignition,' post UK Tour. Musically, this is quite a hard to describe as it draws influences from various sources, jazz, jazz rock and fusion amongst others, have a look at my page on it for more information/ videos or even purchase our album! alongside this more contemporary jazz I have a passion for the jazz tradition with a real soft spot for Gypsy Jazz which you'll learn more about below or if you've looked at my Django Project page.
Closely linked to playing, I have a great passion for composing/arranging for projects and bands I'm involved with or run. My most recent composition and arrangement 'Fog Circle,' was on the Perpetual Motion Machine album and was influenced by time which I spent in Nepal trekking 'Poon Hill' with my Dad. As mentioned arranging is another enjoyment for me, I've spent a long time working on arranging for 4 horns, which you'll hear if you look at my Django project page.
Last, and by no means least, my love for teaching and education. Upon graduating from LCoM, I worked with various educational organisations, Including Jazz Yorkshire (now Jazz North) on two educational projects. These projects were based in 3 primary schools in North Yorkshire, the aim being to promote improvised music and broaden horizons of students who may not usually be exposed to other cultural music because of their rural locations. These projects really resonated with me and instilled a desire to spread the knowledge of the music which I'm so passionate about, be it to any age or ability. This lead to me working closely with another music charity, North Yorkshire Music Action Zone (NYMAZ) which was a similar brief to Jazz Yorkshire regarding exposing younger audiences to various musical genres. Recently, alongside teaching in schools, (see below for details) I've spent a lot of time working with a variety of other jazz based projects, including youth and adult workshops in Leeds, York & Sheffield, These workshops are for students of 16 upwards to come and learn about Jazz improvisation which is something dear to me and very rewarding to see the progression. (See workshops page for more detail or even see my calendar.)
What, where, when & how did I get into music? The short answers are: my dad, Devon, the year 1999 & because of a select few records which I adored… If you’d like to know more, read on.
My dad has always been a big record collector, ever since i can remember and continues to be! Whilst growing up in Devon, I was exposed to all sorts of genres of music, mainly due to the ever growing collection of CD’s. I heard a wide variety of artists including Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd (to my mums despair!), Crosby, Stills Nash & Young, Muddy Waters, Michael Brecker, David Bowie, ELO, DJ John… the list goes on. For me, there were a couple of records which stood out, they were ‘Spirit of Django’ & ‘Years Apart’ by Martin Taylor as well as ‘As We Speak,’ by David Sanborn. These albums, among others, founded the some of the roots of my love for music & eventually made me pursue music as a career.
I started playing the saxophone, around the age of 10, shortly after giving up violin (it wasn’t for me!) & performed and practiced in various ensembles through my school years. This including the Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra (DYJO) as well as after various after school wind orchestras & saxophone choirs etc. Once I started becoming a little more proficient, I started playing with college big bands, wind orchestras & various other wind ensembles. I also started ‘sitting in’ with semi-professional big bands as well as performing regularly with professional function outfits & busking around the south-west of England. This was vital experience for me, as it made me realise it was possible to make a life in the music profession.
The majority of my musical training in my earlier years was in Devon. After studying music and B-tec National Diploma in music at Exeter College, I auditioned for Leeds College of Music and attended between 2008 to 2011. This was a real learning curve as I was able to study under the direction of some of the best players & educators in the UK. This really helped me to develop, my trade. Some of the musicians I studied under included: Joel Purnell, Jim Corry, Jamie Taylor, Mark Donlon & Kathy Dyson. My education under the direction of these musicians, really aided my development and have enable me to work as a musician - something which I cannot thank them enough for. I graduated from LCoM with first class honors in 2011, and have since met and worked with a variety of musicians & bands from the northern & national scene including: Al Wood, Graham Hearne, Sam Dunn, Kate Peters, Garry Jackson, Kevin Holbrough.
What are you doing currently?
Currently my schedule is split between performing and educating. As well as regularly performing at private events with function bands such as ‘Two For The Road,’ ‘Groove On Top’ & 'Vibetown.' I have also worked as part of theatre shows, as well as doing pit-work. Shows I've been part of include: ‘The Unforgettable Show’ & ‘The Karpenters’ As well as a personal highlight of playing in the pit for being the touring west end show of ‘Avenue Q.’ I'm currently starting a theatre tour with Northern Live.
Alongside performing in function bands, I still run, arrange & compose music for my own creative projects as well as performing in other peoples too. These include 'Perpetual Motion Machine,’ 'The Alec Robinson Quartet' and my ‘Django Project,’ of which YouTube footage of my bands has had very credible feedback from artists including: Martin Taylor MBE and Corrine Bailey Rae. (See quotes)
Currently, as well as performing with a variety of bands, arranging and composing, I also have a strong educational roll around the Yorkshire area. I teach privately from home, as well as peripatetically at: Leeds Grammar School, Harrogate Grammar School, King James School, York Music forum & York St John University. I take a regular Jazz improvising classes at York Music Forum called 'Jazz Initial.'