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Dylan Different

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Album Review

Upon hearing “Everything Is Broken,” the opening track of Ben Sidran's Dylan Different, a collection of Bob Dylan covers that uncovers a near symbiotic connection to his source's material, one wonders what took him so long to record this. Sidran chose a dozen tunes from Dylan’s songbook and recorded them over four days in France, applying his requisite musicality, unaffected jazzman's cool, and streetwise yet elegant poetic imagination. There is a decidedly old-school feel to the manner in which this material is recorded that recalls his late-'70s sides. Sidran plays Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and acoustic piano as well as a Hammond B-3, and is accompanied by a killer backing band that includes trumpeter Michael Leonhart, drummer Alberto Malo, bassist Marcello Giuliani, saxophonist Bob Malach, guitarist Rodolphe Burger, and vocalist Amy Helm. His son Leo did the horn arrangements and played additional piano, B-3, and koto, and there are guests on backing vocals, including Georgie Fame, who duets on “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” and Jorge Drexler on "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." What it all adds up to is a truly new presentation of Dylan’s work that seamlessly fits Sidran’s aesthetic without removing the authority of these songs from their historical context. Check the nocturnal funky groove on “Gotta Serve Somebody” or the bluesy dual pianos on “Tangled Up in Blue,” on which Sidran does his talk-singing accompanied by female backing vocalists on the chorus and a restrained horn section. He turns the tune into a slippery, finger-popping club number. Dylan’s slide guitar anthem “Highway 61 Revisited” is given a lithe Latin treatment with Burger’s guitar referencing the original even as the piano and rhythm section make it a funky-butt slow-boiling rhumba. The minor-key swing in “Ballad of a Thin Man” accents the tune's poetry while extrapolating harmonies in the minor-key arrangement. Given Sidran’s treatment of the lyric, if you didn't know better, you might think he wrote it. (The bass clarinet solo by Malach is a sweet touch, too.) He took the greatest liberties with “Maggie’s Farm,” which is not frenetic guitar-based blues-rock here, but a late-night, shimmering piece of beat jazz with an eerie arrangement that extends the reach of the tune’s cultural and economic critique into the heart of the new century. Sidran even has the stones to redo “Blowin’ in the Wind.” He makes it as disturbingly inquisitive and world-weary as the song itself must feel by now, but without losing a measure of its poignancy. Dylan Different reveals Sidran as being in full possession of his jazz and creative gifts but also his ones for interpretive song; by turns, with this fine album, he adds even more weight to the argument that Dylan is a writer of folk songs that transcend their eras of origin in relevancy.

Customer Reviews

Dylan Different

I'd much rather hear one or two of these on the radio than a whole disk worth. Half-way through I was having nightmare visions of the un-holy love child of Steely Dan and Lou Reed.

Dylan Different

This album is a real treasure. Ben Sidran does a great job on all the songs.
The background music is great. This is a chance for all people who don't
care for Bob Dylan's voice to hear the great songs he has written over the

A must buy for his fans!


Jazz versions of Dylan songs sometimes don't work well for me but this is a nice surprise exception. Recommended YES!


Born: August 14, 1943 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Pianist Ben Sidran grew up in Racine, WI. In the early '60s, he played with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs in a band called the Ardells at the University of Wisconsin. After Miller moved to San Francisco and secured a recording contract, he called on old friend Sidran to join him in the Steve Miller Band following the departure of original keyboardist Jim Peterman. Sidran contributed on the keys and as songwriter on several Miller albums beginning with Brave New World in 1969, co-writing the classic...
Full Bio
Dylan Different, Ben Sidran
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Pop
  • Released: Oct 13, 2009

Customer Ratings