Ben Darwish

Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship

"Time, touch, taste, imagination, work ethic, a nefarious sense of humor and an all-round good hang -- in regards to the chair, I think that pretty much covers it with Ben."

-Gino Vannelli 


Keyboardist/composer/leader Ben Darwish is an important part of the nationally-recognized music scene in his native Portland, Oregon. Just as well known for his indie-jazz work as well as straight-ahead jazz, funk, afro-beat and a smidgen of pop, he leads and plays in bands who work in all of those genres. Darwish has also created high-concept shows such as "Afrobeat Tribute to Michael Jackson" and "Live band vs. Ohmega Watts"(band vs. DJ). 

Darwish leads a progressive jazz trio, a ten-piece funk and afro-beat ensemble, "Commotion", and is currently working on a new project with Shook Twins that incorporates folk and dubstep. He has made several recordings as a leader and a sideman. He also plays solo concerts on both acoustic and electric pianos (he is fluent on all keyboards) and currently plays in the band led by sought-after bassist Damian Erskine. He has toured with Gino Vannelli, the million-selling pop/soul/rock singer and songwriter, another musician who also crosses all genres. Darwish has also played with Reggie Watts and performance artist, Kalup Linzy.

Darwish began playing as a small child, nearly as soon as he could reach the keyboard. He received a Bachelor of Music in 2007 from the University of Oregon and was awarded "Outstanding Undergraduate Performer in Jazz Studies". In 2008, he received a Downbeat Award for Outstanding Big Band Performance. He was the winner of the 2010 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award for his composition "Under The Bright Red Sky" and most recently, the 2011 Individual Artist Grant from the Oregon Arts Commission. He experienced a very rewarding stay as an artist-in-residency at Oregon's Caldera Arts to compose new works and has performed at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art's internationally recognized Time Based Art Festival two years in a row.  He endorses Nord keyboards.

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