a style compared to that of Sonny Rollins, Benny Sharoni delivers a
beauty in Slant Signature (Papaya Records, 2015). It’s a set
that simultaneously showcases his mastery of the tenor saxophone and the
elegant side of jazz.
Accompanying Sharoni are Jim Rotondi, trumpet; Joe Barbato, piano; Mike
Mele, guitar; Todd Baker, bass; and Steve Langone, drums.
“Minor City,” one of five original songs in the set, starts in dynamic
fashion. Sharoni and Rotondi share the lead during the opening sequence.
Then the two take turns out front, delivering high-energy, rapid-fire
phrases. The rhythm section is locked in throughout. Barbato also gets
to stretch out. Sharoni and Rotondi then alternate in call-and-response
passes with Langone.
Barbato sets the groove on the cover of Freddie Hubbard’s “Down Under.”
Music doesn’t get much cooler than this. As before, the horns blend on
the melody, delivering that one-of-a-kind sound that only a trumpet and
tenor sax can make. Sharoni plays with a cool-cat vibe, letting loose
like one of those William Lava variants of Mancini’s “Pink Panther”
theme. After Barbato takes a turn, Rotondi brings it with a very
Hubbardesque solo. Baker stretches out, as well. Through it all,
Langone’s cymbal splashes are the ideal complement.
The vibrant title song is a play on words. “Slant signature” can refer
to handwriting that tilts, or the name of a hard-rubber mouthpiece made
in the 1940s. Whatever the inspiration, Sharoni and the band bop to
their hearts’ content. Mele gets into the act, playing in a style that
can easily draw comparisons to Wes Montgomery or George Benson.
Sharoni was born in Israel of Chilean and Yemeni immigrants. Now a
resident of Boston, he has performed gigs with Joshua Redman, Danilo
Perez, Kenny Garrett and Larry Coryell, among others. In 1986, after a
stint in the Israeli army, Sharoni moved to the United States to attend
the Berklee College of Music. He tours the East Coast, Canada, Europe
Slant Signature pleases in many ways, incorporating many of
Sharoni’s life experiences and musical influences, including that of