Lee Ritenour

Rhythm Sections
Concord Records
Lee Ritenour

Lee RitenourRitenour’s previous album, 6 String Theory, featured collaborations with guitar peers John Scofield, B.B. King, Slash, and George Benson, among others. Here, he’s working with virtuoso rhythm section players – and a few newcomers.

Bassists on these 12 numbers include Stanley Clarke, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Chuck Berghofer, Nathan East, and Tal Wilkenfeld. On keyboards: George Duke, Ariel Mann, Debon Johnson, Patrice Rushen, Chick Corea, Alan Pasqua, Dave Grusin, and Larry Goldings. The drummers are equally prestigious: Will Kennedy, Peter Erskine, Sonny Emory, Dave Weckl, Oscar Seton, and Willie Colaiuta.
The material runs the gamut, the performances nuanced to compliment this diverse lineup. One standout is a restrained, atmospheric treatment of Nick Drake’s moody “River Man” with a vocal by jazz singer Kurt Elling, the band (including Grusin and East) creating a complementary mood. Ritenour plays classical on Chick Corea’s airy “Children’s Song # 1,” easily interacting with the song’s composer. Grusin’s 1989 “Punta Del Soul” showcases the five rhythm section winners of Ritenour’s 2012 International 6-String Theory Competition.

“Fat Albert Rotunda” lacks the horn sections of Herbie Hancock’s 1969 original, yet Ritenour more than compensates. Assisted by Rushen’s and Johnson’s keyboards and the basses of Miller and Melvin Lee Davis, they update the feel while retaining the original’s funk groove. On “Maybe Tomorrow,” he adds stinging embellishments in and around South African vocalist Zamajobe. His lines are likewise strong on “Spam-Boo-Limbo.”

The Ritenour originals vary in tone, from the medium-tempo “July” and “800 Streets by Feet’s” glimmering textures to “The Village’s” swirling textures.

Ritenour’s intent here was to showcase the great rhythm players of the moment, spanning generations, and those sure to make their mark in the future. Rhythm Sessions, thoroughly musical throughout, manages to do that admirably.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’13 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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