Drummer & educator
Equally at home in a late night jazz club session or on a festival stage, Ben Charnley is a highly active and versatile session drummer. His playing is strongly influenced by 1950s and ‘60s jazz masters Philly Joe Jones, Tony Williams and Elvin Jones, as well as groove icons such as Jeff Porcaro, Tony Allen, Bernard Purdie and Questlove.
Prior to living in Melbourne, Ben spent seven years in the USA, completing a Bachelor of Music at the renowned Berklee College of Music, Boston MA, where he studied with Grammy winning artist Terri Lyne Carrington (Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter). Ben then relocated to New York where he completed a Master of Music degree at New York University, studying with jazz greats Kenny Werner and Ari Hoenig.
As a result of his achievements at Berklee, Ben received the Ed Thigpen Award, the Achievement scholarship Award and the World Tour Scholarship. Whilst at NYU, he received the Robert Sudick Scholarship and was awarded grants from the Ian Potter Foundation Cultural Trust and Dame Joan Sutherland Fund. His debut album as leader, Riverside Drive, documents his musical journey in Boston and NYC and features longtime collaborator Mina Yu as well as bassists Trevor Brown (USA) and HyoYoung Kim (South Korea). He has also been featured in Drum Scene Magazine.
Ben has extensive recording and touring experience, both in the USA and Australia. He has performed live at venues including the Melbourne Recital Centre, Parliament House, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Forum Theatre, 170 Russell, Federation Square, NGV, the JazzLab, the Paris Cat, Uptown Jazz Cafe, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Moomba, Melbourne Comedy Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, the Adelaide Festival, the Woodford Folk Festival as well as iconic NYC venues such as the Bitter End, le Poisson Rouge, the Knitting Factory, ShapeShifter Lab, Webster Hall, Joe's Pub, DROM and Rockwood Music Hall.
Ben regularly performs with a wide array of artists as a session musician. Since moving to Melbourne he has performed with the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, the Rookies, Fem Belling, Chris McNulty, Mina Yu, Raleigh Williams, Georgina Docherty, Nadira and Friends, Richard Pavlidis, ZEDSIX, the White Tree Band and legendary K-Pop artist Taewoo Kim.
Ben proudly endorses DW Drums, Evans Drumheads and Istanbul Agop Cymbals.