House by Lee Ritenour – reviewed by Chris Mann
artists, as they say, need no introduction.
Lee Ritenour is such an artist.
He’s back with his old label GRP for “Rit’s House”, his
zillionth solo album.
It’s a mix of
original compositions and well-chosen standards. Guitar fans read on…
a Ritenour composition, bobs gently along, driven by Vinnie
Colaiuta’s crisp snare drums and Marcus Miller’s unmistakable
bass. The guitar is pure
gold – Ritenour gets a joyous chirp from it that I’ve rarely heard
underpins the oh-so-cool 13.
This swings gently and, believe me, the Gary Grant, Jerry Hey,
Bill Reichenbach brass triumvirate sounds fabulous here.
John Beasley’s Rhodes solo is a delight too.
percussion opens Gabor Szabo’s exotic Mizrab. It’s a pretty melody which gets some funk injected by
Marcus Miller. George
Duke’s Rhodes solo is restrained but it’s pure Dukey.
drums, deft bass and the classic Hammond B3 sound of Joey DeFrancesco
make 78th and 3rd a slice of timeless jazz.
With tight horns and Ritenour’s sweet semi-acoustic this will
delight listeners who thought no-one wrote or recorded “real jazz”
any more. Mix me a
Martini before the song’s over!
The title track
is a mellow, bluesy and very groovy tune.
The horns again sound sassy and fabulous and this must be
sublime live – I can imagine a classy set opening with this.
Dolphin Dreamin’ is wistful and
pretty. Ernie Watts blows
sweetly and there’s just that nice “Hill Street Blues” feel to
Prepare to be
surprised. Some covers of
Police songs fail to capture the elegance of the original.
Michael Macdonald turns in a superb performance on Every
Little Thing She Does is Magic.
The instrumentation is subtle and this is an impressive
The lazy but
still funky groove of Condor features the other-worldly tenor
of Ernie Watts and it’s driven by the chunky bass of Melvin Davis.
I love this!
flutes open the quirky Olinda.
Rhythmically it’s very subtle and takes a while to get into.
guitar, a mellow upright bass and the hint of B3 – this is the
smoky, bluesy Night Owl. Ernie
Watts is restrained and tasteful.
This stuff gets under your skin – Rit plays jazz.
rollin’ on Party Time. Jerry
Hey’s muted trumpet and Watt’s tenor double up and strut into this
cool number with piano, guitar and sax solos to follow.
Bartender – another bourbon over here!
The wistful Just
Listen closes this classy set.
Drums, bass, piano and guitar are played with such finesse that
it defies belief. If it
sounds familiar, maybe you heard the version on Bob James’ “Grand
Piano Canyon” – it’s gorgeous.
In the liner
notes, Lee describes this project as “one of my most enjoyable to
work on” and it’s for sure that surrounding himself with some of
the planet’s best musicians must have been a high.
Lee’s fans will know that he’s used to that though –
ultimately it’s his songwriting and guitar artistry that make the
difference. And on both
fronts, Rit’s never sounded better.
Records 5898252 Producer – Lee Ritenour