Ben Bierman

Below are some examples of my scholarly work. I have a wide variety of interests, primarily, however, in the area of American music of the 20th and 21st centuries. My particular area of study recently has been jazz scholarship, and more specifically, looking at the music and lives of little-known jazz composers. I have done a great deal of work on the composer-arranger-pianist George Handy, including my Ph.D. dissertation. I have never been the foremost expert on anything, and probably never will be again, but I actually am the foremost expert on George. I have also recently been fascinated by the composer John Benson Brooks.


Pharaoh Sanders

Here is an article on Pharoah Sanders that I wrote for the peer-review journal, Jazz Perspectives in early 2016. It is largely based on my thoughts about his work in the early 1980s when I was hearing him at Sweet Basil with John Hicks, Walter Booker, and Idris Muhammad. I also looked at the critical literature on Pharoah and have tried to discuss him and his music in a fuller and hopefully more balanced manner than people usually do. At least that was my intention!

Pharoah Sanders Straight-Ahead and Avant-Garde


George Handy

Here are a long bio and a short bio of George. I still have more work to do on these, as new stuff keeps coming in as people contact me about George.

George Handy bio (long)

George Handy Biography (short) and notes


This is an article I wrote about Handy's piece The Bloos that was published in the peer-review journal Jazz Perspectives.

George Handy Composes The Bloos


And, finally, if you really are nuts, here is my dissertation on Handy Music of George Handy

George Handy Dissertation


A Few Other Chapters and Articles

Here is a chapter I wrote for The Routledge Companion to Jazz in 2018. I discuss the relationship between jazz musicians and technology, and along the way debunk some myths about the way jazz musicians handle the recording process.

Jazz and the Recording Process


This is a chapter on the relationship of Music and the Labor Movement in the United States.

Solidarity Forever


I've always loved progressive jazz, and if you are wondering what I mean by that, here is an encyclopedia entry I wrote defining it. I have also argued against my own definition at conferences, so take it for what it is worth...

Progressive Jazz


I am a huge Miles fan, and here is my review of a wonderful book by Keith Waters on Miles's Second Great Quintet form the 1960s, published in the Journal of Jazz Studies from the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University-Newark.

Unlocking the Mysteries of the Second Miles Davis Quintet


This is a chapter I wrote encouraging the use of a discussion about the mixing process during recording production as an important tool when teaching music appreciation.

Appreciating the Mix