Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Roni Ben-Hur - Keepin' It Open (Motema, 2007)

Originally from Israel, Ben-Hur is a jazz guitarist and composer possessing of a solid rounded tone and fleet improvisational skill. In this recording, he is accompanied by Santi Debriano on bass; Lewis Nash on drums; Ronnie Mathews on piano; Jeremy Pelt on trumpet and Steve Kroon on percussion. The album mixes straight up post bop with Spanish and Latin influences. The most impressive tunes on this disc were the wonderful version of Thelonious Monk's "Think of One" where the joy the band takes in playing Monk's music is palpable, and there are excellent solos from Ben-Hur, with a fluid, flowing tone and Matthews whose percussive attack adds a distinctly Monkian touch. The Mediterranean influences on "Eshkolit" and "Andaluza" are a nice touch. The former has a quiet flamenco like feel and some very nice Jeremy Pelt trumpet, while the later has a mysterious percussive feel. The fast paced "O Recardo Bossa Nova" ends the record on a fine note, with the playing fast paced and percussive. Ben-Hur's guitar tone is just a little dark and sour, blending in well with bowed bass and squeaky percussion. This is a good album of modern mainstream jazz, fans of musicians like Peter Bernstein and Kurn Rosenwinkel will enjoy this as well.

Keepin' It Open

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