Ben Powell: bringing sophistication to jazz violin

I had the pleasure of meeting Ben Powell on a trip to Boston, MA. He is a gentleman and the consumnate professional!

Ben Powell was born in Cheltenham, England into a musical family. His mother is a Suzuki violin teacher and his father is a cellist in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Ben eagerly started the violin at the age of two, learning from his mother

Ben Powell - jazz violin great

Ben not only developed a strong interest in jazz but the versatility to be able to play swinging improvisations. As a young teenager, he was introduced to Stephane Grappelli’s music. "I had solid oral training on the violin for six or seven years, so I was open to jazz and improvising. I was able to relate to Stephane’s playing quite quickly. Classical music gave me the technique in order to express myself in jazz and improvisation. In jazz, whatever I feel comes out. I did not have to change my sound or my approach at all."

" I’m a big believer in getting a beautiful sound, good intonation and clear articulation. There is no excuse for sacrificing the essential components to good violin playing just because one plays jazz."

On Teaching

" Trained as a classical violinist who also plays jazz, I specialize in relating classical technique to playing jazz on the violin. While linguistically the styles are different, much of the technique used to execute them well, is very much the same. I believe the key to accessing the jazz style on the violin, is to approach the style using the same rules associated with good classical playing – concern for intonation, articulation, tone production and control of tone color."

"I essentially teach jazz violin using two components, language and technique. In methodical steps, each component is practiced independently and then together, to ensure command of the material and an understanding of how they interact to create the jazz style on the violin."