On May 15, 2007 Motma Releases "Keepin' It Open" From Guitarist/Composer Roni Ben-Hur


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The New Recording from Guitarist/Composer RONI BEN-HUR

Featuring Jeremy Pelt, Ronnie Mathews, Santi Debriano, Lewis Nash and Steve Kroon

“Everything Roni does is beautiful. He has the magic touch." - Russell Malone-Jazz Guitarist Extraordinaire

“Roni's playing and control demands respect from the group as well the listeners. It is always a pleasure to make music with Roni Ben-Hur, anytime, anywhere!" - Rufus Reid-World Renown Bassist/Composer and fellow Motma recording artist

On May 15, 2005 Motma proudly releases Keepin' It Open, the new recording from guitarist, composer, arranger, educator and author, Roni Ben-Hur. Keepin' It Open is the brilliant follow up to Ben-Hur's critically-acclaimed fourth recording, Signature (Reservoir, 2005). Keepin' It Open, runs the musical gamut from standards such as “Indian Summer" to Ben-Hur's signature Sephardic sound, which shows up in the exotic folk melody “Eshkolit." Dedicated to the memory of the late bassist Walter Booker Jr. ("His love and beauty will always be present in my music," says Ben-Hur), this release also pays loving tribute to Ben-Hur's mother. “Although I grew up in a small town in Israel, my mother had this 'open door' policy which meant our home was always filled with music, food and passionate converstation not only with family, but with neighbors, friends and often complete strangers," the NYC guitarist explains. The title truly reflects on Ben-Hur's own expansive approach; keepin' it open, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and of course, musically.

“ . . . a deep musician. A storyteller, he works with a warm, glowing sound and has an alluring way of combining engaging notes with supple rhythm." - Zan Stewart, The Newark Star Ledger

Keepin' It Open features Ben-Hur and the world-class ensemble of Ronnie Mathews (piano), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet & flugelhorn), Santi DeBriano (bass), Lewis Nash (drums) and Steve Kroon (percussion). This “all-star" cast expertly and joyously romps through the Ben-Hur original blues, “My Man Harris," showing love and respect for the bebop maestro, Barry Harris. The opening chords to Dori Caymmi's “Like a Lover" wash over you, drawing you in to a place where all is right with the world. The Ben-Hur original “Back When" swings like mad and is a revealing example of why Ben-Hur is considered one of the elite jazz guitarists and composers on the scene today.

Ben-Hur's recordings carry with them an autobiographical element, and are always emotionally honest. The traditional Israeli folk song “Eshkolit" (grapefruit in English) is a breathtaking melody that speaks of Ben-Hur's ever-present roots and life experiences. Other highlights on the recording include the Elmo Hope classic “One Second Please," (check out Jeremy Pelt's fiery cup mute solo), an ultra-hip rendition of Monk's “Think Of One," and a brilliant version of “Indian Summer," in which Ben-Hur's solo is so perfect and seamless it almost seems to be an extension of the melody. Throughout the disc Ben-Hur's big, warm sound, his engaging solos, his tasteful comping and ensemble playing are a joy to hear, and a reminder that music, like life, is full of joy and sorrow; emotions meant to be felt to the fullest. Look for Keepin' It Open available on May 15, 2007, on Motma!

“When historians look back at the start of this millennium, they'll definitely single out Roni Ben-Hur as one of the best and brightest guitarists of his time -- and for all time." - Renowned jazz writer Leslie Gourse

More on Roni Ben-Hur: Winner of the JAZZIZ 2000 Reader's Poll for “Best New Talent" and a favorite of jazz critics and listeners since his emergence on the scene in the 1990's, with each new recording and performance Ben-Hur consistently reveals his ongoing evolution and accomplishments as a composer, arranger and leader. Ben-Hur has won high praise from jazz critics around the world for his previous four recordings, Backyard (TCB-1996), Sofia's Butterfly (TCB-1998), Anna's Dance (Reservoir Music- 2001) and Signature (Reservoir-2005). Among his most ardent admirers is award-winning writer Gary Giddins, who selected Ben-Hur's Anna's Dance as “One of the Best Jazz CD's of 2001" in The Village Voice, describing him as “a guitarist with a low flame burning in every note."

In addition to leading his own bands Ben-Hur has shared the stage and the studio with the likes of Barry Harris, Chris Anderson, Cecil Payne, Walter Booker, Etta Jones, Marcus Belgrave, Charles McPherson, Leroy Williams, Charles Davis, Rufus Reid, John Hicks, Jimmy Heath, Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, Earl May, Teri Thornton and Bill Doggett. “People like Barry Harris, Chris Anderson and Walter Booker offered me a window to this music," says Roni. They showed me how it is not just about chords and scales and theory. They were able to show me how to forget about that and remember the music. That's an important lesson for every young musician to learn."

Ben-Hur has truly dedicated himself to educating others about the joys and rewards of playing jazz and in turn, has probably done as much to generate a new audience, and new players, for this music as anyone. Since being the jazz program director at The Lucy Moses School (Merkin Concert Hall) Roni has literally taught thousands of people through his jazz ensembles and workshops. He is also responsible for starting two ongoing high school music programs in NYC. This will carry on indefinitely, enriching the lives of students for many decades to come. His new book “Talk Jazz" is now available and has been garnering high praise from fellow musicians, students and the press.

Roni Ben-Hur and his wife Amy London (Motma recording artist, jazz vocalist and professor of vocal studies at The New School), and their two daughters reside in the “jazz town" of the tri-state area, Teaneck, New Jersey.

“I think the world of this album. People who buy this album will get something extraordinary. There is a very different spirit to each of the tunes and, of course, his great playing. Accurate, beautiful tone, and all that great stuff!" - Gene Bertoncini-Legendary Jazz Guitarist on Signature

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