Roni Ben-Hur and Santi DeBriano, Our Thing

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 08.16.12 in Reviews

Our Thing

Roni Ben-Hur
Combining airy grace with spry rhythms

Our Thing was born of the extraordinary rapport that Israeli guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and Panamanian bassist Santi DeBriano developed over the years in the concerts that concluded their annual summer jazz camp in the French village of St. Cezaire. But the contributions of a third member, Brazilian drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, seem equally vital to the album’s success. Da Fonseca has demonstrated his mastery of the soufflé delicacy required to skillfully mix jazz with samba and bossa nova under both his name and with the Brazilian Trio. On Our Thing, whether it’s the seven multi-faceted group originals (four by DeBriano), the two Jobim numbers, the stylish-but-straight-ahead bop of Thelonious Monk’s “Green Chimneys,” or a rousing rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face The Music and Dance,” his patter on brushes, splashed cymbals and hand percussion hem any loose threads remaining from the partnership of Ben-Hur and DeBriano. All three blend a heartfelt facility for subtle Latin and North African panache with a cerebral embrace of improvisation burnished by time in New York jazz clubs. The result is a nimble feel that combines airy grace with spry rhythms. Among my favorites are DeBriano’s “Afroscopic,” which features an impeccably smooth and catchy groove ruffled just enough by Da Fonseca’s cowbell; and Ben-Hur’s “Anna’s Dance,” a slightly skewed bossa nova that Jobim would appreciate.