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Ben Z Walker (Benjamin Ward) was born in Roehampton, south-west London, but grew up in the hamlet of Kersey Uplands in the county of Suffolk, UK. He did his first gig in a pub in nearby Hadleigh in 1985, before studying classical piano at Colchester Institute, jazz piano at Leeds College of Music and jazz singing and mandolin at Middlesex University and William Paterson College, New Jersey and gaining a first class degree in Performance Arts from Middlesex University in 1994.
A period as a jobbing musician (including busking) mutated into a move to Bradford, West Yorkshire, and a succession of office jobs, which funded and partly inspired Walker’s self-released debut CD, 2001’s Bahaudin, produced by Nigel Stonier.
Between 2002 and 2009 Walker played gigs and made appearances in West Yorkshire, the West Midlands, Suffolk, London, New Jersey and Toronto, and toured the former soviet republic of Georgia with singing group Samzeo in 2009 before moving to Toronto, Canada in 2010.
After singing with another Georgian music ensemble, Machari, in 2011, Walker joined forces with Gare Black in Ben and Gary’s Ice Cream Band and met bassist Alfred Gertler. Both musicians featured on Walker’s first Canadian release, Gorgeous (2014), a rerecording of songs written in Suffolk. A CD party was held for the album at The Cameron House, Toronto, on 3 October, 2015.
Also in 2015, Walker had a song picked up by the Family Channel for their show ‘Lost and Found Music Studios’. The episode ‘Wondering’, named after the song, first aired on January 20th 2017.
There followed a reissue of dance-related tracks, originally recorded in the late 90s, entitled Astroturf (2016) and an album of collaborations with Mike Pierce-Goulding, whom Walker had met at Middlesex University, with 3 new recordings, called A Place Like This (2019).
Impermanent Resident, a 16-track CD or 10-track download, was released on November 3rd 2020. It featured 11 Toronto musicians and singers, including Kevin Barrett, Michael Kaler and Tim Shia, with whom Walker had been playing live in 2019, and was recorded and mixed by John Dinsmore at Lincoln County Social Club.
Walker is currently working on an alternative version of the Astroturf album, with all-new recordings and some previously unheard songs.
Ben Walker has worked with members of 10cc, Lindisfarne, Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, New Model Army, Sunparlour Players, Broken Social Scene and Patrick Naylor and released 7 albums which combine the influences of 1970s US singer-songwriters, jazz standards and East Anglian folk sessions.
“His songs are crafted in thorough, rigorous detail, but they are nevertheless expressive rather than rhetorical“ – oliverarditi.com