Ritenour and Grusin are back with Amparo, which interprets classical standards, includes two originals, and overall is inspired by a romantic South American sensibility. Do they pull it off? Yes, with a big assist from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, as Grusin transcribes and arranges Faure, Ravel, Albinoni and Handel, all of whom, if they were alive today, might also be composing the lush movie scores that Grusin composes with ease.
A Twist of Rit is Lee Ritenour’s new 2015 Concord Records release. A star-studded band performs a number of new compositions combining with fresh, “twisted” versions of some of his earliest funky, fusion material from the 70s and early 80s. Combining some of the hottest rhythm players out there, including Ron Bruner Jr., Chris Coleman, Dave Weckl, Melvin Davis, Paulinho Da Costa, Michael Thompson, John Beasley, Patrice Rushen, and Dave Grusin with a five piece Horn Section and Ernie Watts on tenor sax, A Twist of Rit will make for one of his most special releases to date.
Between the popular Captain Fingers and his follow-up Rio, crossover guitarist Lee Ritenour recorded a trio of sets for the Japanese JVC label; each of the three have since been reissued on CD. This date matches Ritenour with his pickup group of the time, which was called "the Gentle Thoughts." The lineup is impressive (including Ernie Watts on tenor, soprano and flute, both Patrice Rushen and Dave Grusin on keyboards, electric bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Harvey Mason and percussionist Steve Forman), but the music is typically lightweight. Rit's fans will be interested to hear a different version of "Captain Fingers" and the guitarist's interpretation of "Feel Like Makin' Love" and Herbie Hancock's "Gentle Thoughts," but most of the playing is best served by being used as moderately funky background music.
The third of three Lee Ritenour sets originally cut for Japanese JVC and in 1991 reissued domestically on CD matches the studio guitarist with what could be called the "Crossover All-Stars": Ernie Watts (on tenor and soprano), both Dave and Don Grusin on keyboards, electric bassist Abraham Laboriel, drummer Steve Gadd and percussionist Steve Forman. They perform pleasant but somewhat forgettable originals by Rit, Watts and both Grusins, the kind of lightly funky background music that one would expect from expert studio players.