Lee Ritenour’s label launched 20 years ago

On March 11, 1997, the first recording from the new i.e. music label was released. The album was an all-star tribute to the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim called A Twist of Jobim. The label was co-founded by Lee Ritenour, JAZZIZ publisher Michael Fagien, and label operator Mark Wexler.

So what made Rit want to go out on his own after a lengthy stay at GRP? “In this day and age where thousands of records are released in a given year, I wanted more control over my music and destiny,” Lee Ritenour told Billboard in May 1998. “To have a successful record, you need great music and a great record company. If you have one without the other, it never works. With jazz, you need a team that understands the music and the marketing and promotion that goes with it.”

i.e. music logo

Captain Fingers was also excited about nurturing new talent. “I’ve been making music for 25 or 30 years. I wanted to give the talents and experience that I’ve been fortunate to develop back to some young artists.”

i.e. music issued a number of recordings in a little more than a year, including two Eric Marienthal discs and Ritenour’s This Is Love solo recording. The next “Twist of…” recording was A Twist of Marley on the GRP label in 2001.

Top Contemporary Jazz Albums of 1997 and 2012

Billboard reported these as the Top Contemporary Jazz Albums of 1997:

  1. The Moment – Kenny G
  2. Sweet Thing – Boney James
  3. Dream Walk – Keiko Matsui
  4. Que Pasa – Gato Barbieri
  5. A Twist of Jobim – Various Artists
  6. Soulful Strut – Grover Washington, Jr.
  7. Breathless – Kenny G
  8. Caravan of Dreams – Peter White
  9. Beneath the Surface – Incognito
  10. Body and Soul – Rick Braun

This year’s top jazz albums are on the Billboard site. Looks like another good year for Tony Bennett.

Top 10 – Fifteen Years Ago

In the earlier days of this site, I ran a top ten list of the most popular contemporary jazz at the time. This chart was based on sales and radio play. Here were the top 10 from December 5, 1997!

  1. Jonathan Butler, Do You Love Me?, N2K Encoded Music
  2. Bob James, Playin’ Hooky, Warner Bros.
  3. Boney James - Sweet Thing recordingBoney James, Sweet Thing, Warner Bros.
  4. Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman, Black Diamond, Peak/Windham Hill
  5. Brian Culbertson, Secrets, Bluemoon
  6. Chris Botti, Midnight Without You, Verve Forecast
  7. Candy Dulfer, For the Love of You, N2K Encoded Music
  8. Joyce Cooling, Playing It Cool, Heads Up
  9. David Benoit, American Landscape, GRP
  10. Earl Klugh, The Journey, Warner Bros.