Playing His Way Through Psoriasis
When psoriasis patches started appearing on Ben Tiberio’s face, he was launching his first major performance run as a professional musician. Instead of hiding in the shadows, he chose to stay in the spotlight, transforming his pain into fuel for creativity.
A typical day, it's hard to really say that I have a typical day because every week is different, every day is different. I'll get out of bed. I'll make a coffee, which I take very seriously. I actually feel it's kind of similar to jazz in the sense that coffee is an acquired taste. Then I’ll head to a session or a rehearsal. I live in Manhattan. I play around New York, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. I'll have, like, a six-hour recording session, and then I'll maybe have a half hour commute time to my first gig of the night which will be another part of Brooklyn and play there for three hours. And then I'll have maybe, you know, 45 minutes until the next gig which is in Manhattan, and I commute to Manhattan. By then, it's midnight or 1 a.m. and I finally get to go home and go to sleep and do the same thing all over again.
I feel that the psoriasis gives me a story to tell, you know, in the form of expressing myself through my instrument. As an artist and someone who expresses themselves through an art form. and I didn't have anything going on, then I wouldn't really have anything to tell a story about. I wouldn't really have anything of value to share with the world.
The first place that the psoriasis showed up was, unfortunately, my face, and my forehead. I really felt crippled by this. And it was during one of my first really major performances which was actually five nights of performing at Dizzy's Club, at Lincoln Center jazz clubs here.
I don't think I could've been prepared for how much it really messed with my self-image and my confidence. any time I would see my reflection, I'd just find myself looking at the psoriasis. It was pretty much always on my mind from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed.
The thing unique to jazz as opposed to most other forms of music is this element of improvisation. And what's great about that is it really becomes about the present moment and expressing where you're at, at that time or just whatever you've been dealing with when it’s finally time to play it can be a form of release. Which is really therapeutic for myself, and hopefully, for the audience and whoever's listening, and for the other musicians.