Guitarist/composer Roni Ben-Hur Celebrates His 50th Birthday With Two Nights At The Kitano!


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Roni Ben-Hur 50th Birthday Celebration at The Kitano, 212 885 7119, 66 Park Avenue (@ E. 38th St)

July 13
The Roni Ben-Hur Quartet with Special Guest, Frank Wess
Roni Ben-Hur (guitar), Frank Wess (tenor sax, flute), Santi Debriano (bass), Tim Horner (drums)

July 14
Roni Ben-Hur's Afro-Samba and Beyond Band
Roni Ben-Hur (guitar), Santi Debriano (bass), Portinho (drums), Café (percussion)

About Roni Ben-Hur

Guitarist/composer Roni Ben-Hur is proud to announce a two-night engagement at The Kitano, July 13 & 14, in celebration of a great milestone, his 50th birthday. The performances will also celebrate, and reflect on, Ben-Hur's many fruitful years in New York City. For this special occasion, Ben-Hur will assemble two distinct ensembles to cast a spotlight on how his career has been simultaneously deeply rooted in the straight-ahead jazz world, and the Brazilian/Latin world (also clearly illustrated on his recording with bassist Nilson Matta, Mojave, on Motema).

Roni Ben-Hur was one of the first Israeli jazz musicians to make his mark in New York City. Emigrating to the United States in 1985, he began studies at the Jazz Cultural Theater under the legendary pianist Barry Harris. There the guitarist played with such bop stalwarts as bassist Walter Booker, drummer Leroy Williams, the “musician's musician," pianist Chris Anderson, and was an integral member of Harris's band from 1991 to 2007.

Ben-Hur has since released a 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 the aforementioned Mojave (2011), all on the groundbreaking label, Motema ( Ben- Hur's next album for the label will be, Our Thing (to be released in the Fall of 2012), a trio recording that is in essence a sublime conversation between three distinguished members of the jazz diaspora, Ben-Hur (Tunisia via Israel), bassist Santi Debriano (Panama) and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca (Brazil). On Our Thing Ben-Hur's playing naturally sets one foot in Brazil/Latin America, and one in bebop/straight-ahead. He fully honors both styles with an enviable idiomatic comfort and prowess, born out of a true love for this music. The eleven tunes on this CD comprise seven original compositions by these musicians, as well as four unique treatments of well known standards (from Monk, Jobim, and Berlin); the collection reflects many of strands of the jazz tradition, while being strikingly fresh and of the moment.

In addition to his prolific recording and touring activity, Ben-Hur has established himself as a respected educator. He is the founder and director of the popular jazz program at New York's Kaufman Center. In collaboration with Santi Debriano, he created and runs the annual, week long jazz camp in the village of Saint Cezaire in Cote d'Azure, France ( With Nilson Matta, he launched and directs the Samba Meets Jazz Camp in Bar Harbor, Maine and Paraty, Brazil. 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. This year, he also started, with his wife, vocalist Amy London, a week-long seminar in Istanbul, Turkey, called Jazz and Samba-Istanbul.

This story appears courtesy of Jason Byrne, Red Cat Publicity.
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