Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
284

Roni Ben-Hur: Fortuna

Andrew Velez By

Sign in to view read count Views
Roni Ben-Hur: Fortuna This is a worthy follow-up to Roni Ben-Hur's Smile (Motema, 2009), on which he was memorably paired with fellow guitarist Gene Bertoncini. The Israeli-born composer and arranger is teamed here with three stalwarts, the late pianist Ronnie Mathews, percussionist Steve Kroon and drummer Lewis Nash. This is the same rhythm section Ben-Hur used for the album that preceded Smile, 2005's Keepin' It Open (Motema Music). They're joined by bassist Rufus Reid, with whom Ben-Hur worked on the guitarist's fourth release Signature (Reservoir), whose presence is always a guarantee of quality. Sadly this was one of Mathews' last recordings before dying in the summer of 2008, though his piano is as ever in top form.

Beginning with the romantic title tune, the in-the-groove chemistry of the group is as evident as it is irresistible. Mathews' authoritative timing and masterful harmonies provide perfectly complementary anchoring to Ben-Hur's guitar. The guys are cooking throughout. "The Intimacy of the Blues," a lesser-known Billy Strayhorn gem, opens with a mini-crescendo from drums followed by a lengthy and close interplay between Mathews and Ben-Hur that sweeps up the listener. Mathews solos with just the tastiest bit of Reid's bass dropping in after a dash of Nash's brushes. Never too much or too little, it all sounds as if it couldn't possibly be played any other way or any better.

Another Ben-Hur tune, the bebop-ish "Guess Who?," is one of several tunes on the set that have more than a little Latin flavoring. He and Mathews again pair up for a lengthy, infectious duet. On Jobim's "So Tinha de ser Com Voce," there's more swaying rhythm, but with a striking difference that transforms the bossa into something closer to chamber music.

Amidst all of these splendors the group does Harold Arlen's "A Sleepin' Bee" with a multi-flavored opening passage by Ben-Hur. Before long the ensemble has joined in for some deeply swinging, straight-ahead jazz. Here and throughout the set the playing is as effortless sounding as it is joyful.


Track Listing: Fortuna; I Got Lost In His Arms; Guess Who; Modinha; The Intimacy of the Blues; Were Thine That Special Face; A Sleepin' Bee; Granada; You Are There; So Tinha De Ser Com Voce.

Personnel: Roni Ben-Hur: guitar; Ronnie Mathews: piano; Rufus Reid: bass; Lewis Nash: drums; Steve Kroon: percussion.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Motema Music | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Our Thing
Our Thing
Motema Music
2012
buy
Fortuna
Fortuna
Motema Music
2010
buy
Fortuna
Fortuna
Motema Music
2009
buy
Keepin' It Open
Keepin' It Open
Motema Music
2008
buy
Keepin' It Open
Keepin' It Open
Motema Music
2007
buy
Signature
Signature
Reservoir Music
2006
buy
Kenny Burrell Kenny Burrell
guitar
Grant Green Grant Green
guitar
Tom Harrell Tom Harrell
trumpet
Charlie Byrd Charlie Byrd
guitar
Milt Jackson Milt Jackson
vibraphone
Joe Diorio Joe Diorio
guitar

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.