Back row, striped shirt -- that’s me
Ben’s Early Years
Ben was born in New York City but grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. After watching a 3rd grade classmate plow through a Bach prelude, he asked for piano lessons. Billy Joel, Beethoven, Pink Floyd, and Solid Gold (yes!) were early sources of inspiration.
With the purchase of a Roland Juno 60 in 7th grade (he still has it), his classical piano studies took a back seat, and he joined a middle-school synthesizer quartet.
All four members became professional musicians. Ben played in rock bands throughout high school. This was a great way to meet girls, but public performances were never his comfort zone; creating sounds, songs and instrumental pieces felt better.
He graduated from Montclair High and trekked northward to Cambridge, MA for college.
College and Hollywood
At Harvard, he dove into music composition. Before his freshman year winter break, Ben was creating music for theater and film. He also got involved with the school’s electronic music department. One of his favorite compositions was based on a recording he made of the “T” subway. The creative environment at school was rich and opportunities for exploration were abundant.
In the 1990s, newly arrived in Hollywood, Ben began producing songs for artists and playing in a band, Paley Jones, with his college girlfriend (now wife).
A yearlong stint with Fred Myrow provided a window into life as a composer. When he met Mike Post the following year, he jumped at the opportunity to work in television.
Mike asked Ben to produce the music for “NYPD Blue.” Mike and Ben co-wrote the score for numerous series. “Silk Stalkings,” “Martial Law,” “Feds" & "Public Morals,” were early opportunities.
Soon, it was time to go alone. “Odd Man Out” at ABC was Ben’s first sitcom. The WB’s “Baby Blues” soon followed. After years in the television trenches, he received an Emmy for “Operation Homecoming,” a project about war and its toll on soldiers. His first BMI Award came soon after.
Ben recently completed the sixth and final season of “Lucifer” (Netflix).
Other recent projects include “Bless This Mess” (ABC), “Shut Eye” (HULU), and “Shadowhunters.” He also co-composed the scores for primetime dramas including “Lethal Weapon” (FOX), and several CBS shows: “Extant,” “CSI: Cyber,” and “Hostages.” Lots of drama, tons of tension.
Ben also created the score for the Shonda Rhimes series, “Off the Map” (ABC). The opportunity to work with a full orchestra and record at Warner Brothers’ beautiful Eastwood Scoring Stage was magical.
In 2016, the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed several of his pieces as part of his college reunion. To be in that audience with classmates, friends, family, and his wife, Jackie, was an extraordinary experience.
“We Live in Public” was a Sundance-winning film Ben co-scored with Marco d’Ambrosio. He also scored the Slamdance-winning film, “Heart of Stone.”
Besides the music he has written for television and film, Ben created music for many commercials, including Honda, Bell South, and McDonald's.
He also takes great pleasure in songwriting. In the first year of the Pandemic, Ben released an album: Paley Jones “Lucky 13.” Other song highlights are the wonderful (it really is!) children’s CD, “Another Big Day,” created with Dave Nachmanoff. With Christian Bordal, Ben made two folk-electronica CDs as “emalazarus.”
What Not to Expect
Ben is also developing WHAT NOT TO EXPECT, a musical based on his experience raising his daughter. Musical workshops in New York, Hollywood, and Pasadena have been highlights of recent years. Composer, songwriter, pianist, and dad. That’s Ben.
His studio and home are in Silverlake—a hilly, beautiful neighborhood in Los Angeles. He is quite a distance removed from elementary school piano lessons. Yet, in many ways, he still feels like that wide-eyed kid exploring and navigating the musical landscape to the fullest.
It is quite an adventure.