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.
Guitarist Lee Ritenour decided to celebrate his 50th year as a guitar player by inviting a bevy of name guitarists into the studio to jam out some tunes, all in the name of love for their chosen instrument. Ritenour's subsequent album, 2010's 6 String Theory, is just that, a varied celebration on the many styles and players who have utilized the guitar. The result is an expansive, ambitious, but never belabored album that touches on jazz, blues, funk, and rock and expands beyond the usual Ritenour approach while remaining true to his unique six-string sound. To these ends, Ritenour duets with such artists as contemporary bluesman Keb' Mo', fusion/post-bop legend Pat Martino, and blues icon B.B. King, as well as George Benson, Slash, Mike Stern, and others. To say this is an all-star affair is an understatement and fortunately, while the album never overplays to expectations, it nonetheless delivers on Ritenour's promise of a guitar celebration.
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.
GRP's generally well-chosen 1991 Collection covers an entire decade of Lee Ritenour releases from Elektra and GRP. As such, those years seem to form a late-'70s plateau descending into a commercial valley by the early part of the '80s and then gradually ascending a slope as Rit's playing grows and deepens in the decade's final years. Some of the high points are the Latin-inflected numbers from Festival ("Latin Lover") and Portrait ("Asa") and two excellent straight-ahead excerpts from Stolen Moments ("24th Street Blues," "Waltz for Carmen"), the latter two with lots of Wes Montgomery-like octave work. And even "Is It You?," Ritenour's pop hit from 1981, comes off as a good, catchy piece of record-making. Recommended for those who only want a sample of Lee Ritenour's voluminous solo output.
Released in 1979, “Feel the Night” belongs to a string of albums that definitely established Lee Ritenour as one of the world’s best and most sought after guitar players. All but one track are original jazz/fusion instrumentals written by Ritenour and Don Grusin and perfectly played by the guitar superstar with strong support from the usual suspects. Among the cast of session aces are keyboardists like David Foster, Joe Sample and Dave Grusin with Steve Gadd and Abe Laboriel driving the pulsing rhythm section.
Rio is an album by jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour originally recorded for the Japanese JVC Records in New York City, Santa Barbara and Rio de Janeiro. It was released in the US on Elektra Records. Today, it is available via GRP Records. The track Rio Funk introduced the thumb bass of an unknown Marcus Miller, who went on to play with Miles Davis, and many others.
Dedicated to the First Earth Run, in which runners circled the globe for peace in 1986, Ritenour's 16th solo album was performed on a variety of nine different guitars, counting the peculiarly fuzzy, futuristic sound of the synthaxe. For reasons having little to do with that, and far more to do with more musical playing by Rit, better material and L.A. sessionmen on their game, this is a more interesting record than most of its immediate predecessors.