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Roni Ben-Hur

The youngest of seven siblings and therefore a musician who knows how to thrive as a valued member of a group, Ben-Hur was one of the first Israeli jazz musicians to have a significant impact on American jazz. He single-handedly blazed the trail for the current new wave of talented Israelis now making their mark.

As a determined and impressionable young musician, literally ‘fresh off the boat’ in 1985, Roni absorbed a lifetime of real-deal experience hanging out at Barry Harris’ Jazz Cultural Theater, the epicenter of hip in Manhattan during the 1980s. There he met a veritable who’s who in jazz, each of whom imparted enriching tales about living the jazz life to the aspiring guitarist. “People like Walter Booker, Barry Harris, Chris Anderson and Leroy Williams offered me a window to this music,” says the guitarist who has been a key player in Harris’ band since 1991. “They were my most important mentors. What attracted me to them is the way they always seem to go right to the essence of what music is about. They made me realize how it is never just about chords and scales and musical theory. It’s about the story you tell. That’s a key lesson for a young musician to learn.”

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