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Lee Ritenour – A Twist of Rit

August 16, 2015

One of the most recognized and highly respected guitarists around, Lee Ritenour, has contributed so much in his 40 years of makingLee Ritenour CD the sweet, funky, sophisticated, straight-ahead, and contemporary jazz music. His accomplishments are abundant as one who celebrated five decades as a guitarist back in 2010 and now, with this latest release, commemorates 40 years since his debut recording First Course on Epic Records. He has picked up or been nominated for award after award, been a member of the prestigious jazz group Fourplay, and spearheaded the ongoing Six String Theory Competition which shines the spotlight on aspiring musicians.

As with the Jobim tribute album A Twist of Jobim and Ritenour’s A Twist of Marley and A Twist of Motown, the guitarist’s new A Twist of Rit highlights some of the gems of his career and a couple of new tracks.

With material ranging from fusion to blues to straight-ahead to contemporary jazz, the icon dazzles and glows with brilliance.

A lot of Rit’s musical cohorts contribute to this sterling project, including keyboardists Dave Grusin, John Beasley, and Patrice Rushen, saxman Ernie Watts, bassists Melvin Lee Davis, Tom Kennedy, and Dave Weckl, percussionist Paulinho Da Costa, several top notch drummers, as well as Rashawn Ross on flugelhorn and Bob Sheppard on sax.. Guitarists Wah Wah Watson and David T. Walker join Rit for the first time, as do several others.

There’s so much with which to get comfortable here, as Rit fans should already assume. For example, the first two tracks, from his debut release, are as contagiously full of funk, blues, snap, and some of that Steely Dan intellectual jazz rock flavor along with killer horn arrangements as anything he’s done.

One of the two new tracks “W.O.R.K.n’ it” is an organ-filled, highly charged jazz/blues-based jam that delivers the goods as only Rit can. In addition, the return to his mid-tempo and sassy “A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That,” the other new track “Pearl,” a sweet and light number dedicated to his mom, and the tight and classy title track all make this a must-have album to be sure.

Ritenour followers know that he does nothing halfway. It’s always all or nothing. Get an earful of this, and you’ll know he’s poured his everything into it all once again. – Ronald Jackson