MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Ben Collins-Siegel, a student at Maplewood Middle School, has been profiled in the May-June edition of Jersey Jazz magazine for his performance at the Charles Mingus Festival & High School Competition.
Collins-Siegel, a member of the New Jersey Youth Symphony Jazz Orchestra and Charles Mingus Combo, won an Outstanding Soloist award at the 12th annual competition, held February 14-17 in New York City.
Jersey Jazz asked him about his start: Collins-Siegel “started playing piano at the age of four. After taking private lessons for five years from Zev Babbit, his father’s music teacher, Collins-Siegel began participating in Montclair’s Jazz House Kids program, also taking lessons from pianists Oscar Perez, Radam Schwartz, and Bob Himmelberger.”
At the festival, Jersey Jazz reported, Collins-Siegel launched the band’s first number, Thad Jones’ “Counter Block,” with a stride piano solo. “Mr. T.,” he said, “has always pushed me to do things even when I thought they were beyond my ability. He has shown me that I am capable of playing more challenging music than I believed was possible.”
Collins-Siegel told Jersey Jazz that he plans to continue with music but is also interested in pursuing a career in science.