"It grew out of a conversation I had with Pepper Adams before Pepper died," Ben Sidran tells Paul Gerard. The Madison-based jazz composer, musician, scholar, author, National Public Radio announcer and host of VH1's "New Visions" series is explaining the genesis of "Critics," a song from his 1988 release Too Hot to Touch. "I was talking with him about a record he made with Thelonious Monk at New York City's Town Hall. This concert was so badly attacked by John Wilson in The New York Times that a couple of other concerts were canceled. He felt very bitter that his only other chance to play with Monk had been taken away by a critic. For years musicians have talked among themselves about these people whose job it is to fill column inches in magazines - people who manipulate words very creatively, but who basically can't sing the blues...." Surviving the critical backlash, Sidran enters perhaps the richest period of his career, releasing Life's a Lesson, 1994's album of Jewish liturgical music; Tell Me Something, a 1996 tribute to Mose Allison; The Concert for Garcia Lorca (2000); the 20-CD oral-history Talking Jazz (2006); and 2008's Cien Noches. Recently returned from playing Europe and Toronto, he is now "in the throes of writing a book (Jews, Music and the American Dream)."