Two For Tuesday: Lee Ritenour

Back in the late Eighties, Mary and I were at our local Blockbuster Video (now an Advanced Auto Parts store) and I found a videotape of a concert by Lee Ritenour. I had never heard of him (although I had certainly heard him, even though I didn’t know it at the time), but I saw a young guy playing guitar on the tape box and I decided that he couldn’t be that bad. I took it home and Mary and I watched it, and I was amazed at the music that I heard. I love instrumental, guitar-based music and had developed a taste for what was coming to be known as “smooth jazz,” and Lee did it all.

Lee Ritenour has been around since 1968, pretty amazing when you consider he’s only in his early sixties. He played his first session for the Mamas and Papas when he was sixteen and soon earned the nickname “Captain Fingers.” Coincidentally, that’s the name of our first selection today; in this particular recording, he’s accompanied by Ernie Watts on saxophone, Patrice Rushen on keyboards, Harvey Mason on drums, and Abe Laboriel on bass. He started his solo career in 1975, with the album First Course, and did albums in the jazz/funk and Brazilian styles. In 1991, he recorded Stolen Moments, which featured him playing straight-ahead jazz influenced by Wes Montgomery’s use of octaves and the technique of playing with his bare thumb. The title track from that album, a jazz standard written by Oliver Nelson, is the second track; he’s accompanied by Brian Bromberg on bass, Alan Broadbent on the piano, Harvey Mason on drums, and Ernie Watts on saxophone. Lee has gone on to be the original guitar player of Fourplay (as we heard last week), record a tribute album to Montgomery (one of his influences), and in 2010 celebrated his fiftieth year of playing guitar with the album 6 String Theory.

Lee Ritenour, your Two for Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

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