Sort of the second in a series of “twist” tributes, this is an all-star tribute to Bob Marley. It was put together by guitarist Lee Ritenour, and features the likes of Jonathon Butler, Marc Antoine, Patti Austin, Rick Braun, Dave Grusin, Michael Brecker, and many more. Something should be noted before delving into this. If you are a purist with a narrow mind, this is not for you. The arrangements definitely swerve from reggae, sometimes with great results…other times not quite as good.
For guitarists, there’s a lot to love. Ritenour shines on cuts like “Exodus,” with killer rhythm guitar mixing with a nasty rhythm section of Melvin Davis on bass and Sonny Emory on drums. Ritenour’s octaves and percolating single notes help drive a killer version of “I Shot the Sheriff” with Maxi Priest on vocals.
Some of Marley’s tunes are given a straight soul turn. “Waiting in Vain,” one of Marley’s nicest melodies, is done as straight-up soul. Same with “Turn Your Lights Down Low.” And there’s a pretty hard R&B version of “Get up Stand Up” that contrasts with both Bob’s version and an earlier version on this CD that wouldn’t sound out of place on a smooth jazz station.
If you want to hear some excellent acoustic work, check out the version of “Could You Be Loved.” If you’re not familiar with Marc Antoine, a wonderful jazz player, here’s a chance to hear him. He’s a monster player.
In all, this is a fine CD. But it’s not for purists. If you’re a fan of Ritenour, you’ll love it. If your reggae has to be hardcore, stay away.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.