TGS PLAYER SPOTLIGHT - RONI BEN-HUR


Roni Ben-Hur and Santi Debriano Spotlight


"Fotografia" from his CD Our Thing
TGS Spotlight Player from July 26, 2012

Roni Ben-Hur is rightfully proud of his many fruitful decades in New York City. He was one of the first Israeli jazz musicians to make his mark in New York City (paving the way for the influx of talented Israeli musicians to follow), emigrating to the United States in 1985 and quickly forming long-lasting connections with some jazz's legendary figures, such as Barry Harris (an integral member of the pianist's band from 1991 to 2007), Walter Booker, Chris Anderson, Cecil Payne, Earl May, and many others. While our immigration laws did their best to keep Ben-Hur out, his fellow artists welcomed him with open arms, based on the fact that Ben-Hur could more than take care of business, delivering big as a musician, and as a human being. "I was incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to be around many of the important jazz artists in New York, hanging out with them, sharing the stage and studio, so many meals and good times. This ongoing experience has taught me a great deal about what this music is really about in ways that could never be taught in a classroom. It has shaped my musical development in a profound way, and I refer to it often when teaching, recording and performing around the world", said Ben-Hur.


Ben-Hur has gone on to release a steady stream of highly-successful and acclaimed albums under his own leadership, including Signature (2005), Keepin' It Open (2007), Fortuna (2009), Smile (a highly praised duet recording with fellow guitarist Gene Bertoncini), and Mojave (2011), all on the groundbreaking label, Motema (www.Motema.com). Ben-Hur's new album for the label, Our Thing, is a co-led trio recording with bassist/composer Santi Debriano, and featuring Duduka Da Fonseca, to be released August 14, 2012 on Motema.


Ben-Hur has established himself as a respected educator, over the years exposing thousands of amateur and professional musicians to the joys of jazz and Latin music. Ben-Hur is the founder and director of the popular jazz program at New York’s Kaufman Center. Ben-Hur is also responsible for spreading the gospel about jazz as one of the music's most active international ambassadors: in collaboration with Debriano, he created and runs the aforementioned jazz camp in Saint Cezaire, France (www.festijazzsc.com). With Nilson Matta, he launched and directs the Samba Meets Jazz Camp in Bar Harbor, Maine and Paraty, Brazil (www.sambameetsjazz.com). These camps offers adult jazz amateurs an opportunity to learn jazz and Latin music, while living and interacting with the community, and have become major attractions in these regions, garnering major press attention. This year, he also started, with his wife, vocalist Amy London, a weeklong seminar in Istanbul, Turkey, called "Jazz and Samba-Istanbul". Ben-Hur's instructional book and CD, Talk Jazz Guitar and his new DVD, Chordability, are popular and respected jazz education tools, both available at www.Ronibenhur.com and www.Motema.com.


Bassist/composer Santi Debriano has studied composition at Union College in New York, and then attended the New England Conservatory of Music and Wesleyan University. He worked with Archie Shepp in the late 70's and early 80's, then moved to Paris and played with Sam Rivers for three years. Upon his return to New York City the bassist has enjoyed associations with the likes of Don Pullen, Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Fortune, Billy Hart, Larry Coryell, Chucho Valdes, Hank Jones, Cecil Taylor, Randy Weston, Freddie Hubbard, Kirk Lightsey, Attila Zoller and many others. Debriano has led several of his own units, including small groups in the late 1980s and Circlechant, a world music-influenced ensemble that has had among its members, Helio Alves, Will Calhoun, and Abraham Burton. His latest endeavor is Our Thing, with guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and featuring Duduka Da Fonseca. Debriano was also the music director for arts at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, New Jersey, and was given an award for jazz education by New York University in 2001.


Drummer Duduka Da Fonseca has a special affinity for the trio format. He is well known as the drummer from the popular Trio Da Paz, and is a Grammy nominated artist for his work with Brazilian Trio, which signed to Motema this year for their second CD, Constelaçao, which has gained considerable praise.


Visit Roni Ben-Hur's website at www.ronibenhur.com


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