A saxophonist inspired on the kibbutz

Born in Israel to Chilean, Yemenite parents, saxophonist Benny Sharoni has always had diverse influences at play.

April 7, 2012 08:22
2 minute read.
Benny Sharoni with legendary pianist John Coates

Benny Sharoni with legendary pianist John Coates 370 . (photo credit: Courtesy Benny Sharoni.)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Born in Israel to Chilean and Yemenite parents, saxophonist Benny Sharoni had diverse influences at play in his life from the start.

During his childhood on a kibbutz, Sharoni’s father was “an amateur harmonica player” and his mother played the accordion. His sisters were also musically inclined.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

“There was always a variety of music playing in the house, from Latin/South American (from my mom), to Yemenite/African based (from my dad) and classical,” Sharoni tells JointMedia News Service.

These days, the Boston-based saxophonist tours the world imitating the sounds of jazz greats—while incorporating his own style.

Though his parents initially influenced him to play flute (which was originally one of the few instruments available on the kibbutz), Sharoni soon found his way to the saxophone. “I started playing saxophone a couple of years before I was exposed to jazz,” he says. “Someone handed me the instrument and I fell in love with it.”

A few years later, Sharoni’s mother returned from a trip to the U.S. with albums by such saxophone colossi as Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt and Zoot Sims records. Sharoni’s path to jazz was set. “I love the sound of the tenor saxophone and the versatility,” he explains. “To me, it is the sound of the nightlife, which I love.”

Though he was originally classically trained, Sharoni found his true voice through jazz. “Because of my extreme free spirit,” he reasons, “I sought out a musical form that broke beyond the constraints of classical music. It was there that I found jazz the freest and most expressive music out there.”

After serving in the Israeli army (where he says music often saved both his life and his soul), Sharoni found his way to America, where he studied at the Berklee College of Music. On the way to Boston, Sharoni made a few stops in Europe. “I got my first taste of international performance representing Israel on a 1978 European tour of Israeli folk music and dance,” he explains.

In 1986, Sharoni emigrated to the US, where he has continued to study and perform with some of the best in the business. Among his most profound influences, Sharoni counts Steve Grossman, Bob Berg, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and his wife. “I am a very expressive and rhythmic musician,” Sharoni observes. “Therefore, my performances are very emotional and from my heart.”

Though his love for Latin, African and Israeli music endures, Sharoni also includes many pieces from the Great American Songbook in his sets and on his albums. On his latest album, “Eternal Elixir” (Papaya), Sharoni offers his takes on Donald Byrd’s “Pentacostal Feeling,” Jimmy Heath’s “The Thing To Do” and “To Life” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” as well as original tunes like “Bernstein” and “Senor Papaya.”

“I include many standards in the repertoire, with our band’s own spin to them,” he says. “Also, I like to include a few of my own originals to keep things fresh.

Related Content

Sarah Silverman
August 26, 2014
Jewish women take home gold at 2014 Emmys