Jazz CD Reviews

Lee Ritenour – Rhythm Sessions – Concord Music

Published on January 11, 2013

Lee Ritenour – Rhythm Sessions – Concord Music

Lee Ritenour – Rhythm Sessions – Concord Music CRE-33709-02, 57:42 ***1/2:  

(Lee Ritenour (guitar) and a mixture of different artists including: George Duke (Fender Rhodes, Moog synthesizer); Stanley Clarke (acoustic bass); Dave Weckl (drums); Munyungo Jackson (percussion); Ariel Mann (synths, programming); Kurt Elling (vocals); Dave Grusin (Fender Rhodes); Nathan East (bass); Will Kennedy (drums); Patrice Rushen (acoustic piano); Marcus Miller (electric bass); Melvin Lee Davis (electric bass guitar); Oscar Seaton (drums); Deron Johnson (Fender Rhodes); Rob Bacon (rhythm guitar), Christian McBride (acoustic bass); Wesley Ritenour (drums); Zamajobe (vocals); Chick Corea (piano); Alan Pasqua (piano);Chuck Berghofer (acoustic bass); Peter Erskine (drums); Larry Goldings (Hammond B3 organ); Sonny Emory (drums); Tal Wilkenfield (bass guitar); Vinnie Colaiuta (drums); R.J. Benjamin (background vocals); John Beasley (piano); Demetrius Nabors (acoustic piano); Hans De Wild (Hammond B3 organ); Michael Feinberg (acoustic and electric bass); Selim Munir (drums))

The artists assembled for this disc are literally a “who’s who” of the contemporary jazz scene.  With this many great performers it would be hard to imagine a bad record as a result.  In the booklet that accompanies the disc Lee has taken the time to reason his choice for musicians as well as the younger ones—many of whom are competition winners.  The sound of this record is just about as good as commercial records get considering the variety of instruments used.

Right from the opening track the listener is transported via the rhythm and pace of the music to a beach scene with swaying palms as the sun slowly sets over the water as a brisk nighttime breeze causes torches to flicker.  Where’s my cocktail?  The guitar work on the second track blends beautifully with Elling’s vocals—another uniquely-sounding tune that is very different from the first yet expertly played (and originally by Nick Drake)!  Track four is a bit of an anomaly as the music took a turn to the lightweight and though involving, is not as impressive as the earlier songs.  Luckily (or maybe not so) lucky the next track by Chick Corea rewards the listener with its gentle mix of guitar work and piano.  “Maybe Tomorrow” is less jazz and more popular while the backing music still makes its mark.  This track could easily be heard on an Adult Contemporary music station.  The disc finishes strong with a few tracks by Ritenour himself and the last by Dave Grusin.  Whether he’s playing funk, mellow classical guitar or straight ahead jazz there’s no doubt that Ritenour is an exceptional musician. If you are a fan of fusion then ignore the rating and pick up this disc!

TrackList: The Village; River Man; Fat Albert Rotunda; 800 Streets By Feet; Children’s Song #1; LA By Bike; Maybe Tomorrow; Spam-Boo-Limbo; July; Rose Pedals; Dolphins Don’t Dance; Punta Del Soul.

—Brian Bloom

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