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Roni Ben-Hur: Anna’s Dance

For Anna’s Dance (Reservoir RSR CD 167; 51:55), guitarist and relative youngster Roni Ben-Hur set himself up with a band of wily old veterans, touting resumes long enough to burn out a perfectly serviceable ink-jet printer. He sets a deceptively high bar for himself in the process, but the CD’s urbane hard bop is mostly taken at a leisurely pace. For the better part of an hour, Ben-Hur and company take turns trying to outdo one another with grace and laid-back style.

Saxman Charles Davis’ lazy way with the beat doesn’t cut it, but at least Ben-Hur holds his own with the seigniorial crowd, unreeling single-note lines with an unflashy, workmanlike touch. Pianist Barry Harris’ easy swing steals the recording, however, which is at its most satisfying when Harris, bassist Walter Booker and drummer Leroy Williams take the lead.

Originally Published