Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our Thing By Roni Ben-Hur and Santi Debraino

Our Thing (Motéma Music) is the first time studio collaboration between Israeli-born guitarist/composer Roni Ben-Hur and Panamanian-born bassist/composer Santi Debraino. The idea and inspiration for the collaboration started in the summer of 2011 within the walls of the beautiful Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Sardaigne, a 12th century church atop the tiny village of Saint Cezaire, France, where Ben-Hur and Debraino co-lead a much-lauded annual jazz camp. The pair also give an eagerly awaited annual concert as a centerpiece event of Festi-Jazz.

Our Thing brought them in the studio with the Brazilian born drummer Duduka Da Fonseca who like them is part of the vibrant New York scene. And there is considerable magic heard in this trio from the opening moments of their spirited interpretation of Thelonious Monk’s Green Chimney, to the closing moments of Irving Berlin’s Let's Face The Music And Dance. Seven of the eleven tracks are originals form the trio and bring together a blend of sounds and rhythms as expected from their diverse backgrounds.

Debraino’s Milonga For Mami, for example is a lovely ballad with the bass up front after Ben-Hur states the theme accented by De Fonseca’s parade like cadence. Debraino also contributed the title track, a lively Bossa Nova with Ben-Hur delighting with imaginative single note lines as the rhythm deftly propelling the performance along. Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Fontographia is a lovely performance that further displays the trio’s rapport and how well they complement each other. 

Ben-Hur’s Anna’s Dance, is another original with a Brazilian cast which Da Fonseca effectively drives with an understated attack, while his Ear’s Key, is a lively blues that the guitarist takes the lead with his crisp attack followed by Debraino’s assertive solo before trading fours with Da Fonseca. Irving Berlin’s Let's Face The Music And Dance, is given a spicy latin accent that again showcases Ben-Hur’s propulsive playing and musical invention that Debraino and Da Fonseca support thoroughly.

The musical delights of this trio is captured in a beautifully engineered recording. It is a performance that merits listening to on headphones to catch the nuances of the three. This superb recording is also one of the better jazz guitar recordings this listener has heard recently.

I received my review copy from a publicist.

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