Ben Winkelman is a New York based jazz pianist and composer whose music has been described by Downbeat as “one big, interconnected thing of beauty”. His freewheeling compositions draw on diverse interests, with an emphasis on rhythmic exploration, strong melodic lines and group interplay. He has released five albums of original compositions to wide acclaim, with a sixth due for release in September 2023. 

He has made exploring the piano trio central to his musical journey, with a view to discovering new compositional possibilities for this familiar format. His sixth album, Heartbeat, makes a change in that it features a quartet with guitar on five of the tracks and piano trio on the other four. 

Ben’s second album, The Spanish Tinge, won the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) Award for Best Independent Jazz Album; his first album was nominated for an Australian Jazz Bell Award; and his third and fourth albums were nominated for AIR Awards. His work has been supported by grants from the Australia Council and other arts organizations, and he was a finalist in the Australian National Jazz Awards. He has toured in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. 

Ben was born in Eugene, Oregon and grew up in Melbourne, Australia, a city with a diverse and vibrant music scene, where he was an active bandleader and in demand freelance musician for many years. With a view to expanding his musical horizons, he moved to New York in 2010, where he now lives with his wife and two small children. 

Not long after moving to New York, Ben answered an ad placed by a Black church on Long Island seeking a pianist. This initiated a journey of discovery as he began learning  to play gospel music on the gig. Many of his musical heroes had a connection with the Black church; growing up in Melbourne he had never imagined he would get such a first hand opportunity to learn about its musical culture. 

Ben holds a Master of Music degree from SUNY Purchase College and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Victorian College of the Arts. He studied jazz piano with Kevin Hays, Mickey Tucker and Paul Grabowsky and classical piano with Linda Kouvaras and John Bloomfield.