Since his debut CD, Backyard, (TCB Music), featured him with the Barry Harris Trio in the mid-1990s, critics have had high praise for guitarist, composer and educator Roni Ben-Hur. Among his most ardent admirers is award-winning critic Gary Giddins, who selected Ben-Hur's latest CD, Anna's Dance (Reservoir Music), as "One of the Best Jazz CD’s of 2001" in The Village Voice, describing him as "a limber and inventive bebop guitarist who keeps the modernist flame alive and pure." Duck Baker of Jazz Times writes, "(Ben-Hur) has great tone, taste and imagination". Jazziz magazine’s Mike Bieber describes him as "casting the strings of his vintage Gibson back to jazz guitar’s glorious past". Colleague, guitarist Gene Bertoncini says, "Roni’s jazz playing ranks with the best." Apparently, those sentiments are enthusiastically echoed by his growing audience, who voted him "Best New Talent" in the Jazziz 2000 Readers Poll. Ben-Hur reflects, "receiving this kind of critical acclaim, especially from people whom I admire, is very humbling and motivating." Ben-Hur's love affair with jazz began during his teens in his native land, Israel. Born to a family who emigrated from Tunisia to Israel, he grew up with the exotic, seductive rhythms of North Africa and the soulfulness of Sephardic Jewish folk melodies and prayers. "Every holiday was celebrated with singing and dancing, mostly to the accompaniment of hand drums. Music is what elevated us in celebration as well as in times of hardship", says Roni. Most interesting is that this unusual background made for a very natural transition to jazz. "What typified the music I grew up with was its rhythmic character and room for improvised musical expression, attributes which are typical to jazz. At the same time, I was fascinated by the harmonic lushness and freedom of expression jazz offers in the way it pushes traditional musical boundaries."Ben-Hur, Roni Amos is the author of 'Talk Jazz A Comprehensive Collection of Be Bop Studies', published 2003 under ISBN 9780974494302 and ISBN 0974494305.