Masters: Lee Ritenour And His All-Star Group of Musicians Provided Great Songs To Enjoy
Born as Lee Mack Ritenour on January 11, 1952 in Los Angeles, this smooth jazz artist has had quite a career spanning nearly five decades.
He got his start with the legendary folk group the Mamas and the Papas in 1968. In the late 1970’s, his mastery of using the guitar was incorporated many funk elements which were huge at the time in his first three solo albums.
Throughout the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, he helped form the group Fourplay and would team up with legendary artists on both sides of the Equator–with the likes of Djavan, Kenny G, and Ivan Lins sharing time on stage with Ritenour.
My album Pick of the Week is from 2005 on the GRP label. Many recognizable songs which found their way onto smooth jazz radio were aplenty:
Track 4, “Dindi” has excellent vocals by DeBarge (yes, the same DeBarge who rose up the pop rock charts in the 1980’s with his hit single, “Rhythm of the Night’), Track 7 of “Harlequin” has steady rhythms and Track 9 also has a laid-back vibe on “Asa”.
Scott Adams from the “Sounds of Brazil” podcast fame mentioned in the liner notes,
“Lee’s passion and foresight succeeded in raising the bar for Brazil’s best, with brilliantly conceived arrangements and talented musicianship–and each Brazilian singer in turn responded to the invitation with his own definitive performance.”
Most of the songs were culled from prior albums originally produced in 1984, 1987 through 1989, and 1996. Other key performers worth noting in this album include Caetono Veloso (Track 3, “Linda), Herbie Hancock on piano (Track 5, “Stone Flower”), Kevyn Lettau (Track 10, “Windmill”), and Gonzaguinha along with Kate Markowitz on the final track (“E”, or “Yeah!”).
This is another excellent album worth playing for friends or just relaxing at the beach.
See you all again next month with another cool album review–and hopefully, I will try to get some more Q&A’s involving a pair of really awesome jazz artists that are using some timeless Brazilian jazz classics in their current schedule of playing gigs.