Ben Bierman

My song cycle, Beyond Romance, with text by Earl Shuman, begins with an empty nest couple singing “We’re On Our Own Now." They go on to reminisce about how they met, how they fell in love, and when they found their apartment, had children, and created a family. They go on to sing about their difficulties, including an extra-marital affair, and then gradually reunite.

Earl Shuman (1923-2019) was a paragon of old school professionalism having published and recorded over 400 songs including hits such as “Hey There Lonely Girl” and “Seven Lonely Days.” His songs have been recorded by a Who’s Who of vocalists including Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Patsy Cline, Perry Como, Barbara Streisand, Tom Jones, Eddie Holman, and Dean Martin.

Six Songs

My instrumental song cycle Six Songs has only a smattering of improvised solos, but the songs all came from improvisations of mine that I recorded as I played the trumpet and sang. While some of the music stayed exactly as initially sung, I developed and reordered some melodies and sections, and as part of my compositional process I recorded the bass and piano parts myself, as well as the trumpet parts. While I originally intended to have other musicians accompany me, by the time I finished composing and recording, the project felt like such a personal expression as well as a reflection of my musicianship that I decided to leave them as is. I then had the wonderful experience of working with my oldest son, Emanuel, a terrific and sensitive percussionist, who played the cajón parts for me. Emanuel and I have shared musical experiences since he was five, and working with him on this has been an incredible joy.

These songs reflect my life in music. As a New York City journeyman trumpet player, bandleader, composer, and arranger, I worked with many types of ensembles including small jazz groups and big bands as well as R&B and funk bands; as a salsero I played with numerous bandleaders including Johnny Pacheco and Johnny Colon; and on the blues circuit I performed with Johnny Copeland, B. B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughn, among others. I have also studied composition with David Del Tredici, Tania León, and John Corigliano and have a life-long passion for American popular songs and musical theater. All told, these experiences have made me the musician that I am, and I present these songs with great pride.

See the booklet here.

Photos by Todd Weinstein.