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 Records, 2012).

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.