IV, the fourth CD in Shimon Ben-Shirs portfolio represents both a departure and
evolution from his previous work. From the opening notes of My Take, to the closing strains
of Landscapes, the last track, Shimon takes the listener on his journey into an ethereal blend of
fresh and contemporary compositions, including his wonderfully personal take on Pink Floyds
Breathe. Fans of Shimons compositional talent and signature guitar and bass sound will enjoy
going on an adventure with him, exploring new musical vistas and landscapes.
K. Myron - Beacon Communications
Shimon Ben-Shir IV: If youre looking for gentle (yet power-packed) bass/guitar work,
Shimon will (more than) fill the bill. Its been a while since I reviewed him (issue # 116),
and this 2015 release gets just as high marks as that review did. Songs like Breathe In The Air
sway you gently into the day, with the promise of new vistas (both sonic and life-wise).
The upbeat & jazzy In My Kitchen will force you out of any misery youve been in and get you
ready to dance round the floor tasty, indeed. Of the nine tracks offered up, it was the lively
sax work on Blues For Roxanne that got my vote for favorite! A fine sonic experience that gets a
MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from these ol ears, with an EQ (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.
Delicious and high-energy music/work (not to mention high-talent)
Rotcod Zzaj- Improvijazzation Nation, Issue # 159
@sssafam · Magazine
The musical recommendations corner focuses on the fourth album by the great musician Shimon Ben-Shir.
Shimon Ben-Shir - IV (2015)
I discovered Shimon Ben-Shir by chance when I searched the music site Bandcamp for the beloved band "Bustan Avraham".
The search led me to a very special performance by Shimon for their work called "Bustan".
I discovered that Shimon was part of the original ensemble of "Bustan Avraham" and that he composed this piece together with Avshalom Farjun,
the ensemble's founder.
I really enjoyed Shimon's version so I kept listening to his whole debut album - 'Shades', which came out in 2002,
and his music captured my heart. From there I rolled over to listen to more and more of his music and in the end I bought all four of his albums,
and I am very happy about that. Simon creates instrumental music based on jazz and combines influences of Middle Eastern music and Latin music,
although these influences can only be discerned when delving into melodies and chord changes. Shimon is a great bassist and guitarist,
you can hear that he has a very strong emotional connection with his instruments. In addition,
His fourth album brings him to new creative districts, in several respects. First of all, unlike his previous albums in which his band participated in all
the songs, in some of the songs on the new album the composition of the musicians is relatively limited, and the opening section of the album he performs
entirely on his own. Second, Shimon's musical style continues to evolve and transcend itself, both in terms of writing and playing. You could say that
this album marks the beginning of a new and fresh era in his musical life. And despite all the rejuvenation, Shimon's quality sound and unique style are
preserved, and this can be heard from the opening note of the album, and so it continues to resonate throughout.
The album features several talented musicians, some of whom have played with Shimon for many years: flutist Amir Milstein, saxophonists Diane Wernick,
Duncan Martin and John Payne, keyboardist Diana Fischer and drummers Jody Bregler, Phil Neighbors and Devin Vaillancourt.
The album opens with a especially pleasant a solo piece by Shimon that is all basses. The opening track connects to a beautiful version of Pink Floyd's
"Breathe', where it is joined by gentle drumming. Then the music begins to blossom with the excellent 'V' section, whose rhythm sweeps the listener on a
trip to Latin America, and when the flute joins then the flowers open and open the heart with them. The 'Sweet' section already bears a particularly sweet
fruit, at the beginning it reminds me again of Pink Floyd but from there it develops towards a wonderful jazzy direction, and much thanks to the saxophone. 'In My Kitchen' fills the air with pleasant aromas of authentic gourmet delicacies. ‘Birds’ is in my opinion one of the highlights of the album, it is a heavenly piece that makes me hover in my imagination and fly high among a variety of spectacular birds, and the most amazing bird is revealed during the excellent solo of the saxophone soprano. And from this magic you wake up to a good morning with 'Optimistic Morning' which definitely paints the atmosphere in shades of pink. Towards the end comes the sweeping section 'Blues For Roxanne', part of which is led by a wonderful tenor saxophone player and in part the reins pass to Shimon's amazing bass. And the concluding section 'Landscapes', takes the listener on a journey through special and varied landscapes, from the combination of the flute and percussion reminiscent of the early days of the Middle East, through the electric guitar that travels across the US, to the melody of keyboards that symbolizes classical Europe. All the places the music travels to is
Shimon's great bass playing that envelops all the sounds and allows them to grow on fertile ground and reach a spectacular bloom. When Shimon's
strings weave all the sounds into a bouquet of flowers whose beauty is amazing and whose scent is mesmerizing.
Music & Opinion for the 21st Century - IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION magazine
Shimon Ben-Shir ENCOUNTERS:
It was way back in issue # 77 that I first reviewed Shimons high-energy jazz; fast-forward a few years
(from 2007) and he sends me this new one
I was impressed then because of the vigor and taste for life that
Shimons group displayed
just scope out I Like It to hear why I like this great group so much!
Shimons solid approach to the music he and his group play make for the kind of
solid & enduring jazz that first gave the genre its reputation.
I just loved the creepin back-alleycat feel of Missing Link,
& have no doubt you will too (this is my favorite track on the CD, by the way).
For an all-round enjoyable excursion through 9 great jazz tunes, this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me,
with an EQ (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.
Chris Spector Midwest Record: SHIMON BEN-SHIR GROUP/Encounters.
First class sitting down jazz that doesn't always take you where you expect it to,
Ben-Shir and his long standing crew know what to do and how to get you there. Not exactly jazz to kick back to,
you can easily switch between background and foreground music here and find it fits the mood either way.
Nicely woven textures and themes move gracefully and altogether offer a great sonic getaway from the grind.
A solid bet when you want something done right that's out of the ordinary.
Jazz Times - 06/17/11 Albums By Edward Blanco
Israeli-born bassist and guitarist Shimon Ben-Shir unveils his third album with the brisk and spicy
Encounters performed by a core quintet of players he calls the Ben-Shir Group.
Though he grew up with the music of the Middle East, this projects projects none of that and a great deal of
swinging post bop magic that's all jazz.
The Ben-Shir Group features a two-sax attack with Diane Wernick and Duncan Martin manning the tenor and soprano
accompanied by Amir Milstein on the flute. Diana Fischer takes care of the rhythms on keyboards while the drum duties are
shared by Jody Bregler, Dani Danor and Ricardo Nhuch. The talented Ben Shir is heard on bass and guitars.
There are nine delicious tracks, all originals from the bassist and members of the band. Transition is
the album opener and happens to be one of the more gentler pieces quite unlike the piece that follows,
I Like It featuring one of the saxophonist laying down a swinging line. Saxophonist Martin contributes
Tyler's Tune, dedicated to wood sculptor Tyler Aspin, another swinging piece, this one brings out keyboardist Fischer on a
nice solo and of course highlights the sax chops of Martin along with teasing bass work by the leader.
Ben-Shir makes his mark on the humble Aunt Clara, the theme from the movie Doda Clara with soft bass
lines on perhaps the only light ballad of the album. Diane Wernick's composition What's It Gonna' Be is
the center-piece of the disc containing a rich melody and perky play from the group, one of the saxophonists,
as the liner notes do not indicate, and firm drumming from Bregler
The finale tune and title piece features Ben-Shir on the guitar accompanied by flautist Milstein on a beautiful
but brief delicate number capping a seriously fine session of music from an unheralded group of players that have truly
enjoyed their encounter in the making of this Encounters.
Encounters is the third release from the Ben-Shir Group. Leader Shimon Ben-Shir plays bass and guitar and composed six
of the nine selections. They swing on "I Like It" and "Tyler's Tune" before settling into a lazy blues on "Missing Link".
Our favorite is the festive "What's It Gonna' Be".
Diane Wernick and Duncan Martin do a fine job on sax with Diana Fischer (keyboards), Amir Milstein (fl)
and drum duty divided between Jody Bregler, Dani Daniel and Ricardo Nhuch.
D. Oscar Groomes
O's Place Jazz Magazine
Jim Santella, Cadence Magazine review
Shimon Ben-Shir Combines Smooth Jazz with the exotic sounds of the Middle East on WAYS, the second album from his ensemble.
Melancholy air and comfortable grooves mix together, as the bassist takes his band through a program of original song.
The ensemble based in New England. Since the bassist grew up in Israel, his music contains many reflections from distant lands.
Weve come a long way since Juan Tizols Caravan, now employing hand drums and electric instruments in addition to the usual band sounds.
Ben-Shir prefers the light sound of flute, alto, and soprano saxophone for this session, giving his music an open and carefree texture.
His electric bass provides a consistent wall of fluid energy that maintains the sessions flow, while solo features from his woodwind
players carry each impression to its conclusion. Like a traveling band of troubadours that seeks to entertain with sonorous activity
and encouragement for dance, the Shimon Ben-Shir Group provides a lovely team outing that appeals to a broad audience.
Shimon Ben-Shir Group - Ways
Shimon is a bassist and the composer of most of the eight tracks on this release. He is a well above average bassist and a good songwriter to boot.
He injects the songs with a great groove and brings on the melody and the rhythm depending on the need. Each track has a story to tell and
with Shimon's expressive bass and the occasional brass or woodwind solo the feelings flow through.
I would say that he is a disciple of the Jaco style of bass playing and his band does a great job blending along.
This one of the best jazz releases I've received this year, primarily due to the excellent bass playing.
Grog Mutant - The ChickenFish Reviews (2007)
O's Notes: 3/3 stars Bassist, composer and producer Ben-Shir gives us eight new compositions for his sophomore effort. The music has a friendly neobop swagger that is inoffensive but not too simple.
We liked "Do It" with Duncan Martin (Tenor sax) and Diane Wernick (soprano sax) combining for a bouncy melody.
Shimon gives his colleagues lots of solo opportunities but he steps up frequently as on his dashing bass line on "Gliding" and his solo on
D. Oscar Groomes
O's Place Jazz Newsletter
Great Ways by Bruce Von Stiers - BVS Reviews
Ways has been called world class and decisive. I would add things like thoroughly entertaining and worthy of a spot in any top drawer jazz collection. The Shimon Ben-Shir Group brings the listener a wonderful listening experience with Ways.
Ways is based in the jazz realm, but takes grooves and cues from here and there in the world music spectrum as well.
The album opens up with a hint of flamenco before turning to a jazz number only very slightly Latin. Jochebed adds some different tones to the proceedings,
but the interesting part here is the deep bend in the bassline that comes in and out during the song. The tone turns again to something closer to smooth jazz
before a great bit of post-bop courtesy of tenor saxman Duncan Martin's composition Four Score. The album grooves, and slinks, and thumps, and strolls
its way through the rest of the tracks, never quite settling on a style or a theme but keeping the tone suitable for an afternoon at a gallery
this isn't the most rousing jazz ever created, but it serves a creative purpose other than sheer exhilaration.
It's thought-provoking without becoming cerebral, ambient without becoming moody. The bass is the most adventurous instrument here,
holding an odd leadership role in the ensemble despite the limitations in range. Worth a spin for a glance at some contemporary stylings from what is essentially a jazz artists collective,
a singer-songwriter community of sorts (but without the singing).
by Adam Greenberg
September issue of Improvijazzation Nation.
This CD is pure joy to listen to, whether you're a hard-core jazz fan, or only a casual passer-by. The brilliant splashes of color on the CD jacket give you an indicator of the life contained in the music, but once you pop it in the tray & begin spinning the title track (which opens the experience), you'll find yourself fully engaged & enchanted. Ben-Shir's bass (and guitar) talents are fully revealed on the second cut, "Jochebed"... it's a bit hard to describe, as there are solid rhythmic foundations in the Middle East, but then John Frazee's horn kicks in, & you feel like you're in th' middle of the Caribbean somewhere. Itemizing each of the pieces would be like "giving the secret away", and you wouldn't want that - it would be like telling the end of a movie... and, that's what this beautiful musical experience reminds me of... a well-crafted tale that invokes memories seated deep in your psyche, bringing each of the emotions you experienced back in new ways. Absolutely stunning jazz, nothing pretentious, & very enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the highly energetic "Four Score", the "deepest" jazz cut on the album. I've no doubt that listening to these folks in a live setting would make you come away ready to overcome all the evil in the universe. I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMEND
It's always nice to begin things with the unexpected. The title track of the Shimon Ben-Shir Group's album Ways starts with a whistle and a shout of "Flamenco!" And while the beat that follows is Latin in nature, the song doesn't exactly sound like traditional flamenco, at least none that I'm familiar with. Instead, the band launches into a diverse smooth jazz fusion which travels the world over in its influences.
From there the band moves into even more exotic territory, borrowing and blending a host of sounds, rhythms and styles from every corner of the planet. The great thing is that it's a fun exploration that avoids getting bogged down in pretentious jazz over-indulgence. The band is tight and skilled, but they don't have to go out of their way to prove it.
MISH MASH Mandate: Jazz Crusaders
With a hot bass player leading the way, this crew jumps into their second
set of internationally flavored jazz that swings and sets the paces
nicely. Transplanting from Israel to Boston in the 90's to go to music
school, Ben-Shir comes by his international chops honestly and organically
as he grew up around a crucible of world sounds. Mixing it with bop
moves, this contemporary jazz outing takes you to places you ears
will dig. (BenShir Music) Midwest Record
Great music, played for the sake of beautiful jazz unity John
Book, Music For America The bio for Ways (Ben-Shir Music)
says the album is like encountering a friend you haven't seen for
a while. While I had never heard of The Shimon Ben-Shir Group before,
their brand of laid back jazz does sound familiar and warm, but not
too lazy to where it becomes smooth jazz. The core of the music is
Ben-Shir's bass work, where he goes back and forth between fretless
and fretted, and he surrounds himself with an incredible range of
musicians who fortunately know what they're doing. A piece such as
"Jochebed" shows how diverse his music can be, where the meat of the
song (the melody) sounds beautiful like a Pat Metheny song, but the
soloists add their own flavor, especially trumpeter John Frazee. When
he plays, he adds a bit of color to an already vibrant portrait, and
in a way sets himself from the rest for about a minute before moving
away and allowing everyone else to play. Everything on this album
is fairly mellow, nothing excessive or out of the ordinary. While
some of these songs could appeal to smooth jazz fans, there's a bit
more going on than the usual. One can say that Ways is jazz on cruise
control, moving the seat back and letting things come as they may,
but Ben-Shir pushes himself and everyone to do their best, and they
all play for the sake of beautiful jazz unity.
"Ways", the title track opens up with the elegant voice of Milstein's flute backed up by strong bass line work from Ben-Shir and supported by Wernick's sax phrasings in an obviously worldly but beautiful tune. The leader introduces the following track, "Jochebed," later engaged by trumpeter John Frazee in a rather melancholy Middle Eastern-tinged sounding number.The tunes "Do It," "Gliding," and "Orange Sky," while very different in melodic styles, all seem to fall within the world jazz theme of the album. There are two tracks however that break from the theme and can be considered straight jazz. "Four Score," is a burner of a track showcasing an outstanding performance from Duncan Martin on the alto and Fischer on the piano.Ben-Shir saves the best for last in the melodic-rich Latin style rhythms of "Circle," containing a stylish Ben-Shir bass solo, Martin's tenor phrasings, and a lively percussive beat provided by Jody Bregler on the drums. The conclusion, The Shimon Ben-Shir Group delivers a world-class performance in a compelling session of world jazz rhythms that will appeal to the jazz aficionado and average jazz audience alike. A definite thumbs up from this jazz critic.
Edward Blanco, Ejazz News.
The main template of the group is rooted in Jazz (Bebop to be more specific). They tend eschew the more fringe elements of Bebop though and stick close to head arrangements and melodies. The rhythms keep on the fluid side without losing the groove. The groups love and understanding of Latin and Middle Eastern music is also evident and give the sound a very pleasing yet interesting tone. This keeps the music dynamic without sounding to "out there" for some people's ears. Although more easy-listening than some may prefer for their Jazz diet, the Shimon Ben-Shir is certainly does not come across as background wallpaper but rather as a nice way to unwind from a hard-working day.
Cameron Blades -WORLD RHYTHM WEBZIN
"A joining of jazz and Jewish Music"
The Boston Globe, By Steve Greenlee
"The music of Ben-Shir, whose material is rooted directly in bop. But even though Shimon find himself aligned with mainstream jazz, he says it would be unnatural for him not to fold in music of the Middle East or that of Latin America."
"In Ben-Shir's music, the influence is subtle. Tunes on his album "Shades" are not recognizable as derivative of Middle East until you pay close attention to melodies and chord changes."
"Shades" CD Review Brookline Tab! "Bassist-composer Shimon
Ben-Shir must not have be... "Bassist-composer Shimon Ben-Shir must
not have been paying attention the day it was explained that his instrument
was a member of the rhythm section. Because even though saxophonist
Duncan Martin take care of the most playful melodies here and both
pianist Nicholas Mustelin and guitarist Mark Michaels have their turns
at melodic soloing, it's Ben-Shir who, when not driving the beat with
his precisionist, fluidly take over the lead, sometime alone sometime
in unison with another band-mate. Most of the original tunes are from
the straight ahead or softly swinging school of jazz. The composition
"Oasis" sticking out like a pretty middle eastern flower, a little
reminiscent of Yusuf Lateef's version of "Love Theme from Spartacus."
The guitar-filled "One of us" provides a lovely flight of fancy."
The Boston Globe, Go! Wednesday
"We decided to listen to the disc and determined t...
"We decided to listen to the disc and determined that it is indeed worthy of praise,
if you on the hunt for some silky, Latin-tinged jazz"
Here is a collection that could be described as a composers collective project. These Boston area writers have decided to document their six original tunes to the immortality of magnetic tape. Worthy tunes they are too. They are performed with a nice loose jam session feel.
I feel the writing of bassist Shimon Ben-Shir is especially praiseworthy. His tune Dex which ends the album is reminiscent of a Mingus band; loose and contrapuntal with a formal asymmetry. Drummer Moroney contributes the final solo on the tune utilizing the spaces between his notes shrewdly towards an improvisation that really breaths.
The Jazz Friends Review
Vol. 1 Number 2, March, 1996 Full Review