The next Lee Ritenour recording will be solo guitar, the contemporary jazz legend told The Bulletin in October. “I’ve done almost 45 albums (and) never ever done a solo guitar record,” Ritenour said. “I thought it was really overdue, so I’ve been slowly preparing that the last couple (of) years — a lot of new compositions and there’ll be some standards.”
As for Captain Fingers rejoining Fourplay, Rit was elusive when asked about it last year following the death of Chuck Loeb. During audience Q&A before a performance in Kansas City, he didn’t say yes or no. Instead he talked about the magic that happens when the right musicians come together at the right time.
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.”
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.
Jazz For Japan is a benefit album recorded in two days by 25 of the top jazz musicians in the world benefiting the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. The recordings took place last week in Los Angeles at Capitol Studios in Hollywood. Legendary and Grammy nominated performers include: Kenny G, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, George Duke, Rickey Minor, Tom Scott, Billy Childs, Boney James, Lee Ritenour, Keiko Matsui, Bob James, and many others.
Larry Robinson, Jazz For Japan producer states; “This project came about after discussing the tragic aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan with my co-workers. I told them that many of the American jazz musicians tour Japan numerous times a year. It was at that moment the seeds of Jazz For Japan were born. Within five days we called all our jazz friends and put together this truly amazing line up of musicians to record at Hollywood’s famous Capitol Recording Studio who all donated their time.”
The album features jazz standards including “Maiden Voyage,” “Body & Soul,” “Watermelon Man,” “So What,” “Sophisticated Lady,” etc. along with a DVD release including interviews with the artists stating their support and sympathy for the Japanese people. “You, the Japanese people inspire us with your resilience. We are trying to send our strength with what we have – and that’s music,” states Steve Gadd (drummer, performing on “Maiden Voyage”, and “So What”).
Jazz For Japan is being produced by Avatar Records and is available now worldwide via iTunes with profits benefiting the International Red Cross in Japan.
He’s been a presence in contemporary jazz for more than two decades and nominated for seventeen Grammy awards. Guitarist Lee Ritenour still has stories to tell. The concept for his new release, Smoke N’ Mirrors, came from different sources, notably his first trip to South Africa last year. The new recording has a definite world influence. Ritenour brought in a number of musicians to help him achieve his vision: eight percussionists, South African singer Zamajobe, Daniel Jobim (grandson of Brazilian legend Antonio Carlos Jobim), his thirteen year old son, Wesley, and old friends like Dave Grusin, John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta, Abraham Laboriel, Richard Bona, and Patrice Rushen. He also plays twelve different guitars. As you would expect from the personnel, the performances are top-notch and Rit’s playing is fluid. If you haven’t checked out Captain Fingers in a while, Smoke N’ Mirrors is a good one to pick up.