A pioneer for what has become an important wave of top jazz talent coming out of Israel, Ben-Hur migrated to New York in 1985, at the age of 22, and was quickly embraced by Manhattan's jazz elite. Learning jazz the old fashioned way by â€˜doing the hang' at notable venues such as Barry Harris's Jazz Cultural Theater, he met a veritable who's who in the jazz community. "People like Walter Booker, Barry Harris, Chris Anderson, and Leroy Williams offered me a window to this music," says the guitarist, who was a key player in Harris's band from 1991 to 2007. "They were some of 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 an important lesson for a young musician to learn." Key characteristics of Ben-Hur remain his generosity and true passion for collaboration and passing the jazz torch; as such he's earned both respect and love from a very wide community of jazz lovers.
"Everything Roni does is beautiful. He has the magic touch," says fellow guitar master Russell Malone.