Guitarist Roni Ben-Hur, originally from Israel, has absorbed a lot of different cultures and styles into his music. That is reflected on this CD in the variety of music played here: straight ahead jazz as well as Latin and Middle Eastern folk melodies.
Mexican singer Magos Herrera brings a sense of husky passion to the songs "La Serena" and "A Redoblar" that sits nicely beside Ben-Hur's warm guitar chords, Ingrid Jensen's soaring trumpet and George Cables' crafty piano work. Israeli vocalist Tamuz Nissim appears on "Ha'omnam," a beautiful Hebrew song about overcoming struggle, that is set to a gentle samba beat with Cables and Ben-Hur playing lightly, with sensitively. The guitarist and pianist also excel on Ben-Hur's instrumental ballad, "But I Had To Say Goodbye," giving that tune a sense of quiet drama. .
The rest of the album is high quality mainstream jazz. The entire group twists and swirls along the breezy surface of Ben-Hur's composition, "Ma'of." The veteran rhythm team of bassist Harvie S and drummer Victor Lewis keep the beat lively as the trumpet and guitar sail up and down over the melody. The remaining three tunes on the disc are all by notable jazz pianists. John Hicks' velvety "After The Morning" flows along easily with Jensen's muted horn and Harvie S' loping bass standing out. "Something For Kenny" is a tricky Elmo Hope melody that flies along, carried by bouncy guitar and buzzing trumpet. Cables' own "Melodious Funk" is a slyly soulful tune with familiar Thelonious Monk chord patterns where everyone frolics in a carefree and cool manner. Jensen really lets go in her solo, and the leader picks with nimble swagger during his.
Roni Ben-Hur works very well through a variety of musical styles and this release has him doing that in the company of an excellent group.
La Serena; Something for Kenny; But I Had to Say Goodbye; Ma'of; Ha'omnam; After the Morning; A
Redoblar; Melodious Funk.