Album review

Benny Sharoni, ‘Slant Signature’

Benny Sharoni

Slant Signature

The format on tenor saxophonist Benny Sharoni’s “Slant Signature” couldn’t be more straightforward: the bluesy, tuneful, groove-based imperatives of hard bop. There isn’t a stale lick on this concise, utterly satisfying disc, which includes five well-turned originals as well as covers by stalwarts Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and Ray Bryant. The Israeli-born Sharoni (living in the Boston area since coming to Berklee in 1986) and his band crackle with spontaneity on every tune. They come flying out of the gate at a superfast tempo on Sharoni’s “Minor City,” a hard-bop flag-waver if ever there was one, Sharoni and guitarist Mike Mele nailing the tricky unison theme with precise abandon. Sharoni has an appealingly gruff, throaty sound, which he combines with a lyrical attack that gives a vocal quality to his lines, especially on more relaxed grooves, like the blues of Hubbard’s “Down Under” and his own “Bitter Drops.” Filling out the band are trumpeter Jim Rotondi, pianist Joe Barbato, bassist Todd Baker, and drummer Steve Langone, all of them focused and assured. The tunes are as varied as the solo sequences: blues, a samba, a bossa, an irresistible boogaloo. Play it again! (Out now)

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