Shimon Ben-Shir Group
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Shimon Ben-Shir Group

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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 - Improvijazzation Nation Magazine


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. - Midwest Record


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. - John Book, Music For America


"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.


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 - MISH MASH Review


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. - Bruce Von Stiers BVS Reviews


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 gives 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 group 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 WEBZINE


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. We’ve come a long way since Juan Tizol’s “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 session’s 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. - Cadence Magazine Oct - Nov – Dec 2007 review


“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."
- The Boston Globe, By Steve Greenlee


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)


Discography

"Shades" a 2002 Release under label of NADA Productions

"Ways" a March, 2007 independent release.

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Bio

Bassist, composer, producer and music educator, Shimon Ben-Shir grew up in Israel, surrounded by the sounds of Middle Eastern music. One of the founding members of the Bustan Abraham Band, a Middle Eastern musical group led by the renowned Avshalom Farjun. Shimon came to Boston to attend the jazz program at Berklee College of Music in 1991. Since that time he has immersed himself in the New England music scene, playing in a wide range of bands covering diverse musical genres. He graduated from Berklee in 1994. In 2002 Shimon released his first album "Shades," with the Shimon Ben Shir Group on the Nada Label. "Shades" received positive reviews in the newspapers as well as a feature article in the Boston Globe. The group perform regularly many notable venues throughout the Boston area. Most recently Shimon produced and recorded the Shimon Ben Shir Groups latest CD, "Ways." He also composed the majority of the tracks. The album is highly praised by the press