No matter your scene, there’s a better-than average chance that at some point over the last twenty years drummer Ben Perowsky has dropped into it, enlivening its backbeat with his trademark blend of melodicism and vigor.
Perowsky is undoubtedly best known for his presence on the modern NY jazz scene, a first call drummer for John Zorn, John Scofield, Dave Douglas and Uri Caine. But there have been numerous other Ben Perowskys – the son of a bebop saxophonist, immersed in the gospel of Elvin and Philly Joe from birth; the '80s NYC kid, scrawling graffiti and banging out beats on parked cars for rappers on the nascent hip-hop scene; the high school rock skins-basher emulating John Bonham and Keith Moon; the dance party host who still enjoys pounding out disco beats for the enjoyment of sweating, swaying throngs.
That mish-mash of interests first found expression in Lost Tribe, the groundbreaking jazz/rock/hip-hop group that Perowsky founded in the late eighties.
Perowsky’s evolution from a kid rebelling against jazz – essentially, the family business – into one of its most enthusiastic innovators has taken an equally winding path. He first picked up the sticks, he jokes, because "I needed to drown out my father." But Perowsky’s route to jazz snaked initially away from dad and through hard rock before coming full circle.
"It’s always been sort of an ongoing conflict," he says. "When I was young I couldn’t really grasp the jazz thing. I was more into Bob Dylan, Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Police. But when I started getting serious about music at 14 or 15, I realized that my drumming heroes - Mitch Mitchell, John Bonham, Keith Moon -were all coming out of Tony Williams and Elvin Jones anyway, so I wanted to go to the source."
Perowsky has maintained his interest in the rock world, however, being as integral a part of bands like Elysian Fields, Joan as Policewoman and 101 Crustaceans as he has been to the Uri Caine Trio or the Lounge Lizards, and clocking session and road time with Rickie Lee Jones, Walter Becker, John Cale, and Hercules & Love Affair.
The one constant through all of these diverse inspirations is the filter of Ben Perowsky’s imagination, which has consistently found a way to integrate and harmonize those seemingly clashing genres.