Thursday, June 25, 2015

Benny Sharoni: Slant Signature

Papaya Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Slant Signature

I did my first review of tenor saxman Benny Sharoni about five years ago; he had just released his first album, Eternal Elixir. I was impressed. But then, no sign of him until now, when spring brought this album.

He’s even better now.

Sharoni was born in Israeli and raised in a kibbutz near the Gaza strip. He served the mandatory three-year stint in the Israeli army; during that period, he fell in love with jazz. (Sonny Rollins was a major influence.) After his military service, he enrolled in the Berklee College of Music, and chose the life of a professional musician.

Both albums have featured a sextet, although two pianists switched that chair in the first release. Four of the artists who supported him on Elixir — pianist Joe Barbato, guitarist Mike Mele, bassist Todd Baker and drummer Steve Lagone —also are present in on this new release. They’re joined by Jim Rotondi on trumpet.

This group plays bop, although in several styles: straight-ahead, Latin, New Orleans strut and blues. Through it all, you’ll also detect a hint of his homeland. Most important: Everything swings. Sharoni demonstrates Rollins’ influence, but without being a copycat. 

Five of the eight tracks are Sharoni originals. The three jazz standards are by Lee Morgan (“Ceora”), Freddie Hubbard (“Down Under”) and Ray Bryant (“Tonk”).

Don’t make us wait so long for your next session, Benny!

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