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Roni Ben Hur (c) Richard Conde PhotographyA powerful force in the jazz scene since the 1990s, Roni Ben-Hur is widely recognized as one of the most significant guitarists, bandleaders, and educators of his time.

Winner of the JAZZIZ Reader’s Poll for “Best New Talent” in 2000, Ben-Hur has performed with the likes of Jimmy Heath, Etta Jones, John Hicks, Barry Harris, Walter Booker, Earl May, and many others. His previous four recordings have earned praise from fans and critics alike and response to his newest disc, Keepin’ it Open (Mote;ma) has been enthusiastically positive.

On top of his duties as a performer, recording artist, and bandleader, Roni Ben-Hur is also a respected educator, serving as jazz program director at The Lucy Moses School, where he has taught numerous jazz ensembles and workshops. Ben-Hur’s recent instructional book, Talk Jazz, is published by Mel Bay and is now available for purchase.

1. The Far East Suite Duke Ellington 

“An uplifting recording that is always inspiring.Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington take us through a journey in the East, and you can smell the places through the music.”

2. Solo Masterpieces Art Tatum

“Tatum is something else.His playing set the standard for everyone else, but even with all the razzle-dazzle his music is always beautiful.”

3. Summit Meeting at Birdland Charlie Parker and the All Stars

“Wow!I feel badly for anyone who was trying to play this music at the time and got to hear this band.They are killing.Every cut has so much energy and edge to it, swings like mad and is funky as can be.No one has topped this one yet.”

4. The Hawk Flies High Colman Hawkins

“Colman Hawkins is so innovative.His playing has it all: soul, fire, sound, swing, and originality.He also always kept himself current and relevant, not as one who follows a trend, but one who sets it.”

5. Time Waits Bud Powell

“Bud Powell’s sound is so hip.He can play fast or slow and every note sings.His phrases are very sophisticated and at the same time swing hard, and are full of the blues.”

6. Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor Arthur Rubinstein, Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky

“It is hard to believe someone can hear so much music in his or her head, but I guess Ravel could.What a sophisticated and beautiful piece, and these three guys sure can play it.”

7. Afro Cuban Kenny Dorham 

“KD’s genius is too many times overlooked.Here is an artist who was able to say something completely new and hip in jazz right after Bird.Most people at that time felt like Bird had said it all, but KD proved them wrong.”

8. Pres and Teddy Lester Young and Teddy Wilson 

“As elegant as can be.For me, this record, and everything these two did, is a wonderful example how much music you can make with only a few notes.The feeling they had, along with their sound and rhythm, makes everything they played a classic.”

9. Thelonious Monk Trio Thelonious Monk 

“What can you say about Monk that hasn’t been said?I think that of all the incredible talent that jazz has known, Monk will be one of the most influential hundreds of years from know.This recording is magical also because of the genius of Percy Heath and Art Blakey.Although most of the music is improvised, every note and hit by all members of the trio is so perfect, you would think they worked on it for months.This is jazz at its best.”

10. Elis Tom Antonio Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina 

“These two are a perfect match. Jobim’s writing is so profound, and Elis’ singing is so moving. A recording full of beauty and emotions.”

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