Special Straight-Ahead Musings by Guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and Bassist Harvie S
By Denin Koch, Contributing Writer, June 20, 2018
On their 2018 release Introspection on Jazzheads Records, guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and bassist Harvie S succeed in presenting a guitar trio record that captures the timeless tradition of the ensemble while also producing exciting new sounds and timbres that set them apart. Together with Tim Horner on the drums, the veteran jazzmen offer a refreshingly simple and understated record that features fascinating interplay and a deep commitment to ensemble playing from all three men.
Introspection features underplayed selections from some of the most storied composers in jazz history, including Thelonious Monk (“Introspection”), Billy Strayhorn (“Blood Count”), Joe Henderson (“Serenity”) and Tadd Dameron (“Focus”). The album is varied and well-paced, with each successive track showcasing more of the trio’s versatility. Filling out the set of lesser-known pieces are a pair of Brazilian songs (“Pra Machucar Meu Coração” and “Deixa”) that groove gently and recall Ben-Hur’s long association with South American music. Ben-Hur and Harvie S shoulder equal loads of accompaniment and melody throughout the record, and each shines throughout with wonderful solo turns. Ben-Hur’s natural phrasing and gift for melodic contour are especially apparent on “Introspection” while Harvie S’s singing arco on “Blood Count” gives the piece a deep emotional weight. Introspection reaches its pinnacle on its final track, a blistering rendition of Kenny Dorham’s “Asiatic Rays.” Ben-Hur delivers a fiery, dizzying solo, aided by equally aggressive playing from Harvie S and Horner.
At its core, Introspection is about great tunes and cooperative music making, two of the traits that make straight-ahead jazz so special. Ben-Hur and Harvie S’s fun and joyful release is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish and is an excellent example of the beauty of simplicity and humility in music.
Cover: (l. to r.) Harvie S and Roni Ben-Hur; courtesy of artists.