Ben Marston, jazz musician and sound artist
By Sam Tonkin, Music Administrator and Justine Molony, Communications Officer
As Director of Bands at Radford College, Ben Marston spends his days supporting his students to refine their musical abilities. Providing inspiration, encouraging ambition and giving students across the College the opportunity to get into the groove, it's an enviable role. Unbelievably – to most of his junior acolytes at least – Ben also has a life and a musical practice outside the College, one that is a natural progression from his participation in Radford's co-curricular music program as a student here in the 1990s.
As Ben says himself, these days he also spends 'a fair amount of time playing jazz trumpet', often in the company of fellow collegian and current co-curricular guitar and ensemble tutor Lachlan Coventry.
Ben began playing the trumpet at an early age and was first introduced to the music of Miles Davis by his father, inspiring his love of jazz. After Year 12, he completed an Honours degree in performance and subsequently went on to complete a Masters of jazz composition in 2005 at the Canberra School of Music. This study led to Ben's first album in 2006, Ben Marston's 12 Tone Family, which received national radio play most notably on ABC Classic FM's premier jazz program Jazztrack.
Described as a 'sound artist', Ben has enjoyed an enriching career of performing and composition, including performing with James Morrison and completing a two-year concert series at The Street Theatre that presented original works for large and small jazz ensembles and was recorded by Jazztrack.
An upcoming concert with Lachlan and double bassist James Luke at the Street Theatre (11 August) 'Chasing Chet' re-imagines some of the great jazz standards of the twentieth century. With references to Chet Baker, Doug Raney, Niels-Henning and Ørsted Pedersen, the trio are committed to playing timeless music treated in a respectful yet contemporary way.
He continues to explore works involving electronic and digital manipulation and his most recent album in walked pris is a result of this process of exploration and reflection. Ben's use of electronics led him to travel to Norway in 2015 to study with the world pioneer of live remix, Jan Bang, and work behind the scenes at the renowned Punkt festival. It is this journey of discovery that informed much of the album.
A collaboration with Norwegian creative Simen Lovgren, in walked pris was launched in June at the Drill Hall Gallery, where Ben enthralled guests with an aural journey into 'his places' through sounds of his cycling passion, home kitchen, tea drinking at Grandma's, travels in Africa, children playing in the backyard, and his joy in reggae and soul. This 'two sides of dark dubby jazz' was pressed as a 7" vinyl record, which is the fulfilment of a dream Ben didn't think was possible only a few years ago.
Ben's achievements over the last 20 years are unarguably impressive. But, they're born out of a love for his art and the fulfilment that comes from building a life out of a personal passion. It's an example our students are fortunate to have in their midst.
Examples of Ben's compositions and performance are available on soundcloud.