Clarinetist / Composer Ben Goldberg grew up in Denver, Colorado. He received his undergraduate music degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master of Arts in Composition from Mills College. He was a pupil of the eminent clarinetist Rosario Mazzeo, and studied with Steve Lacy and Joe Lovano. Ben's career has been shaped by a relentless pursuit of musical truth across many genres and styles, leading John Zorn to call him "one of the greatest clarinetists I've ever heard."
Ben's group New Klezmer Trio "kicked open the door for radical experiments with Ashkenazi roots music." (San Francisco Chronicle) Their CD Masks and Faces was listed as one of the ten best recordings of 1992 by Cadence magazine, which called it "great free improvisation."
Ben composes for and leads the following groups: Unfold Ordinary Mind featuring Nels Cline and Ellery Eskelin; Go Home featuring Charlie Hunter, Ron Miles, and Scott Amendola, "a searching ensemble that welcomes lyrical improvisation while
embracing the groove." (The New Yorker); and his new sextet Ben Goldberg School. Ben is a composer-member of the avant-chamber jazz ensemble Tin Hat; and also performs with plays monk; Myra Melford's Be Bread; Nels Cline's New Monastery; Clarinet Thing; and Afterlife Music Radio, an electro-acoustic quartet. The 11- piece Ben Goldberg's Brainchild performs Ben's on-the-spot compositions.
Ben was named #1 Rising Star Clarinet in the 2011 Downbeat Critics' Poll. His song cycle Orphic Machine, commissioned by Chamber Music America, was premiered in 2012, as was his suite "Come Back Elliott Smith." Recent awards include commissions from San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, the French American Cultural Exchange, the de Young Museum of Art in San Francisco, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.