The group, Our Thing, is a collaboration between guitarist Roni Ben-Hur whose roots are in Tunisia and Israel, bassist Santi Debriano who was born in Panama and grew up in Brooklyn, and percussionist Duduka Da Fonseca whose roots are in Brazil and their latest effort is "Manhattan Style (Jazzheads). In the publicity materials for this release, mention is made of 'home' as a theme underlying the album whether in the originals from the trio or the covers of compositions from Ellington, Coleman and Jobim.
The music here is breezy, uplifting, reflective and exuberant. Ben-Hur's "Home" opens on an exhilarating fashion as he exhibits marvelous technique and tone displayed before solos from Debriano and then Da Fonseca on an scintillating opening track. Ornette Coleman's mid-tempo blues, "The Blessing," is another vehicle for Ben-Hur to showcase his touch, tone and musical sense that evokes Wes Montgomery and Grant Green to these ears before another taut Debriano solo while the trio's rendition of Jobim's "Polo Pony," further evidences their sophisticated interplay, with the deft support of Ben-Hur's wonderful playing. Ellington's "African Flower" just may be the diamond of this recording of many musical jewels, as Da Fonseca uses mallets and percussion to accent Ben-Hur as he states the theme with a marvelous Arco solo from Debriano the centerpiece. The sober, melancholic tone of Debriano's "Imaginary Guinea" reflects it being composed during the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Its title is a reference to Vodun, whose followers in Haiti believe that Guinea is where their ancestors reside and that they will be reunited with them there in death. Guinea also represents Africa.
This superb recording closes with the lively title track that Da Fonseca composed after seeing Freddie Hubbard at the Blue Note in the 1980s where Hubbard was was “playing his butt off.” This selection opens with Ben-Hur's vibrant lead before Da Fonseca takes an explosive solo. "Manhattan Style" is simply terrific.
I received a download of this from the record company.This review appeared in the November-December 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 369). Here is a video clip of the three.