Ben Bishop favours a freewheeling, bop-based guitar style, most reminiscent of the classic guitarists of the 1950s and 1960s. Players such as Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, and Grant Green are major inspirations to his sound and musical approach. After a number of years living in New York, during which he earned a DMA in Jazz Studies from the prestigious Eastman School of Music, he currently resides in Toronto, Canada. He regularly performs with many of the city’s finest jazz musicians and is also active as an educator.
As of late, the co-led organ trio known as Donnybrook has been a primary musical outlet for the guitarist. The trio, consisting of Bishop’s guitar, Jeff McLeod’s Hammond organ, and Morgan Childs’ drums, has a recent release on the Bandcamp platform: Donnybrook – Live at the Bassment. On Live at the Bassment, each band member is featured as a composer and as a soloist, while the ensemble sound highlights the rare musical simpatico these musicians share. Until the unfortunate interruption caused by covid-19, Toronto residents could hear Donnybrook, each and every Wednesday night, during their ongoing residency at Parkdale’s Tennessee Tavern. The pandemic also postponed a planned collaboration with guest saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith (The Roots, Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings) as part of a recently awarded TD Discovery Series Special Project Grant. With any luck, Donnybrook will return to active club duty, post-pandemic, at a venue near you!
A prior recorded effort featuring Bishop under Jeff McLeod’s name, the aptly titled “Double Entendre,” was produced by Harold Danko (veteran jazz pianist with Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz and others) and garnered enough respect to earn a Western Canadian Music Award nomination. This album featured the acclaimed saxophonist Mike Murley and New York drummer, Andrew Millar. Other career highlights include an acclaimed big band residency with Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy, and a 2009 DownBeat Jazz Award with Dave Rivello’s New Jazz Ensemble. In addition, Bishop has shared the stage with musicians including Alex Dean, Maureen Kennedy, John Riley, Perry White, Bernie Senensky, Phil Woods, Helen Merrill, Pat LaBarbera, Neil Swainson, Lee Konitz, Steve Wallace, and many others.