“I always thought
it’s a very cool model to combine very well-known, almost legendary
players with completely new talent on the same record. I love that
scenario. It’s not a format that many people have followed before, but
I’ve always considered it a fascinating experiment, and a way to create
some great sounds.”
Lee Ritenour, speaking on the release of Rhythm Sessions (Concord
Ritenour’s career has spanned five decades as a session player, band
leader, member of the supergroup Fourplay, songwriter, guitarist and now
talent scout. Aided by jazz luminaries such as Chick Corea, George Duke,
Stanley Clarke, Dave Grusin and Marcus Miller, Ritenour also employs
winners of the 2012 Rhythm Section Competition, an international event
he launched in 2009 as a guitar competition but later expanded to
include keyboardists, bassists and percussionists.
The set begins with “The Village,” a Ritenour composition that features
Duke on Fender Rhodes and Moog synthesizer, Clarke on acoustic bass and
Dave Weckl on drums. Duke leads with Ritenour playing rhythm guitar and
Weckl playing a shuffle beat.
Ritenour arranged Herbie Hancock’s “Fat Albert Rotunda,” a sassy, funky
groove. Assisting on this track are Patrice Rushen on acoustic piano,
Marcus Miller on electric bass, Oscar Seaton on drums, Deron Johnson on
Fender Rhodes, and others. Miller’s signature bass plucks help drive the
piece, complemented by Seaton’s crisp work on the high-hats. Ritenour’s
lead at times has an outer space vibe.
“LA By Bike,” another Ritenour composition, features Larry Goldings on
Hammond B3 organ, Melvin Lee Davis on bass, Sonny Emory on drums and
Ariel Mann on synths and programming. It’s a cool, breezy piece that
conjures images of a free-spirited cyclist two-wheeling it through the
“City of Angels.” The song has just a touch of reggae in its beat.
Ritenour, also known as “Captain Fingers,” closes the set with “Punta
Del Sol,” accompanied only by the 2012 competition winners: Hans de Wild
of Holland, keyboards; Demetrius Nabors of Michigan, piano; Michael
Feinberg of New York, bass; and Selim Munir of Turkey, drums.
Other notables who contribute to this recording are vocalist Kurt Elling;
bassists Nathan East, Christian McBride and Tal Wilkenfield; drummers
Will Kennedy, Vinnie Colaiuta, Wesley Ritenour and Peter Erskine; and
pianist Alan Pasqua.
Rhythm Sessions offers the best of both worlds. It shows off
Ritenour’s skills as a songwriter and musician. And it gives glimpses of
several stars – veterans and future – of instrumental music.