Whether he’s melding hip-hop and jazz with legends like Masta Ace and Donny McCaslin, playing upright bass at the Newport Jazz Festival with Dred Scott Trio, remixing Karsh Kale or WuTang’s Killah Priest, rockin’ on electric bass with Marshall Crenshaw, or producing Peter Bernstein solo jazz guitar, Grammy-nominated producer/(re)mixer/bassist/composer Ben Rubin (aka Benny Cha Cha) is renowned for making records that are pure or genre-bending or both.
Picked seven times as a “Rising Star Producer” in DownBeat Magazine’s International Critics’ Poll, Rubin has well over 100 album credits to his name. Lately, he has been working with a diversity of artists including Queen Esther, Erik Deutsch & Theo Bleckmann, Steve Conte (New York Dolls), Stripmall Ballads, Rachel Eckroth (Rufus Wainwright), Lower Power, Caleb Wheeler Curtis, Drifter feat. Lucy Woodward, Buzzed Armstrong, and Jon Irabagon, as well as labels like Ropeadope, Sunnyside and Imani.
Most recently, Rubin’s attention has focused on Analog Players Society. In 2019 at the Bridge Studio in Brooklyn, Ben and APS founder/producer/engineer Amon Drum convened New York jazz greats tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin (David Bowie Blackstar), pianist Orrin Evans (The Bad Plus), bassist Dezron Douglas (Ravi Coltrane / Black Lion), and drummer Eric McPherson (Fred Hersch Trio). This single three-hour recording session, where few words were spoken and ancient spirits flowed, yielded both the cut-up hip-hop instrumental record Soundtrack for a Nonexistent Film and the jazz album TILTED, both released in 2020 on Ropeadope. In June 2021, APS released yet another recording from that session, the hip-hop single “Home in America,” featuring Juice Crew rapper Masta Ace.
In 2018, Rubin produced the album Freebird, by jazz quartet Walking Distance feat. Jason Moran. This Charlie Parker-inspired jazz epic, highlighting expansive production choices, garnered critical acclaim and landed on The New York Times list of the Top Jazz Records of 2018. Four years earlier, Rubin co-produced, with composer/pianist Emilio Solla, the Grammy-nominated Second Half, a large-ensemble tango-jazz masterpiece. His producing and mixing work for SmallsLive Records has been lauded by The New York Times as “beyond reproach.” During his time at the label, he released more than 30 records with jazz greats including Larry Goldings, Louis Hayes, Tom Harrell, Johnny O’Neal, Chris Potter, Tim Ries, Nicholas Payton, Harold Mabern, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Roy Hargrove, Eddie Henderson, Mulgrew Miller, Seamus Blake, and Cyrille Aimeé.
JazzTimes applauded Rubin’s upright bass playing for its “deep, exploratory tone.” He has played and recorded both upright and electric bass with a diversity of artists, including Dred Scott Trio, Patti Smith, James Maddock, Marshall Crenshaw, Queen Esther, Chris Brown & Kate Fenner, Courtney Love, Mary J. Blige, Moby, Alan Cumming, Bill Frisell, and his own acclaimed, genre-bending band Mudville (winner of an Independent Music Award for Electronica Song of the Year).
Rubin has composed scores for features and short films, including director Nelson Kim’s feature film debut, Someone Else, which premiered at the Miami International Film Festival in 2015. His short film score credits include Paul Pope’s “7x6x2,” produced for Tribeca Film.
Producing Masterclass, DownBeat Magazine, 6.2021
Producing Masterclass, DownBeat Magazine, 2.2015
Interview with Postgenre.org, 9.2020
Interview with SonicScoop, 2.2016
Someone Else on Amazon Prime