Sizzling from start to finish, “Harlequin” is the result of one of the most intuitive partnerships in the world of jazz. Although Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin had been working together for a decade, “Harlequin” is regarded by the two musicians as their first genuine recorded collaboration, whereby from original concept, through selection of tracks and personnel to arrangements and mixing, it was truly a joint effort. Included in the top ten best jazz recordings ever by a noted poll, “Harlequin” is a blend of smoldering Brazilian rhythms and moods with a freshness and verve that brings on a tingle of excitement each time it is played. The scintillating jazz fusion of “Harlequin” includes added spice in the form of a major contribution by Brazilian singer-songwriter Ivan Lins who appears on three tracks.(grusin.net)
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.
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.
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.