284

Roni Ben-Hur: Fortuna

Andrew Velez By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Title: Fortuna | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Motema Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "House Of Waters" CD/LP/Track Review House Of Waters
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Allied Forces" CD/LP/Track Review Allied Forces
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Find Your Wings" CD/LP/Track Review Find Your Wings
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 5, 2016
Read "Euro Swing Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Euro Swing Vol. 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 24, 2016
Read "Colour And Movement" CD/LP/Track Review Colour And Movement
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "It's Time" CD/LP/Track Review It's Time
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: August 31, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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