History will dictate that you can count on guitarist, educator, and author Roni Ben-Hur to produce a quality product. A much-admired technician and idea-man, his seventh release as a leader presents a modern mainstream outlook, spiced with Steve Kroon’s buoyant and textural world-groove percussion treatments. Ben-Hur’s band signifies a jazz superstar conglomeration, including pianist Ronnie Mathews, who sadly, died of pancreatic cancer on June 28, 2008.
Ben-Hur embeds a sprightly Latin jazz element into the program, yet softens the tone with the engaging ballad, "I Got Lost In His Arms, accentuated by his emphatic single note phrasings and Mathews’ radiant solo. But the unit gels it up a few notches during the bridge. In addition, many of Ben-Hur’s voicings are reminiscent of the Wes Montgomery-school via his sweeping chord progressions and storyline type solos.
The album features breezy works, such as the delightful "Where Thine That Special Face," nicely contrasted by Rufus Reid’s arco-bass solo. Then Ben-Hur executes a tender ballad, devised upon subtle grace and an expressive rendering of the primary theme on "You Are There." The artist consummates the set with a velvety reading of Jobim’s "So Tinha De Ser Com Voce." Enamored by a pristine audio recording, and a superior support structure, Ben-Hur impeccably fuses a colorful mode of attack with articulacy and enviable chops.