Amazon.com Widgets

Lee Ritenour: 6 String Theory (2010)

By Published: | 15,305 views
Lee Ritenour: 6 String Theory How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The very gift that makes a session musician great can also be a curse. Oftentimes expected to be chameleon-like, it's that very act of becoming a credible musical shape-shifter that can sometimes lead to a loss of individuality. Lee Ritenour is a consummate and complete guitarist if ever there was one; his varied discography supporting a seemingly insatiable appetite for anything to do with the six-stringed instrument and all its variations. Often (and, in many cases, unfairly) linked too heavily with a genre that he helped formulate in the mid-to-late 1970s through his own "fusion lite" albums like Captain Fingers (Epic, 1977), to call Ritenour a smooth jazz guitarist would be unfairly exclusionary, as 6 String Theory proves in spades.

Not that there's anything wrong with smooth, but there's none to be found amidst 6 String Theory's multiplicity of styles, all-star guests and a cohesion surprising for an album so eclectic. Instead, Ritenour goes for the throat with some down-and-dirty blues ("Give Me One Reason," featuring guitar slingers/blues beltersRobert Cray
Robert Cray
Robert Cray
b.1953
guitar, electric
and Joe Bonamassa
Joe Bonamassa
Joe Bonamassa

guitar
) and mainstream jazz (the incendiary "L.P.," with Ritenour joined by straight-ahead hero Pat Martino
Pat Martino
Pat Martino
b.1944
guitar
and organist Joey DeFrancesco
Joey DeFrancesco
Joey DeFrancesco
b.1971
organ, Hammond B3
, and a swinging "Moon River," with the equally mislabelled George Benson
George Benson
George Benson
b.1943
guitar
in full-out bop mode). There's some pedal-to-the-metal guitar pyrotechnics when Steve Lukather
Steve Lukather
Steve Lukather
b.1957
guitar
, Neal Schon and Slash get together for the high octane shuffle of "'68'"; a classier blues, "Why I Sing the Blues," where elder statesman B.B. King
B.B. King
B.B. King
b.1925
guitar, electric
is joined by relative youngsters Keb' Mo', Jonny Legend and Vince Gill, who not only turns in a searing solo, but as impassioned a vocal turn as his partners. And just to prove he still can do it, there's a nod to Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck
b.1944
guitar
on Max Middleton's classic boogie, "Freeway Jam," where Ritenour tears it up with Mike Stern
Mike Stern
Mike Stern
b.1953
guitar
and Japanese guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei, supported by legendary British drummer Simon Phillips.

There are also nods to the acoustic side with guest steel-stringers Joe Robinson and Andy McKee
Andy McKee
Andy McKee
b.1953
bass
. A guitar competition as well as a CD, 6 String Theory closes with its winner, classical guitarist Shon Boubil, performing two Legnani "Caprices."

The entire set kicks off with Ritenour's funky "Lay It Down," capably sharing the bill with contemporary John Scofield
John Scofield
John Scofield
b.1951
guitar
. As well as Ritenour plays here and throughout 6 String Theory—humbly leaving more than ample room for his guests as he appears, in fact, on only eight of the album's fifteen tracks and never dominates—it highlights the disc's one and only flaw: Ritenour plays undeniably well throughout, but it's the very strength of the voices around him that highlights his own lack of one. It's hard to criticize a player so accomplished and so diverse, but while many of his guests will be remembered for their distinctive musical personalities, it's far more likely that Ritenour's legacy will be as an exceptionally talented chameleon, capable of fitting into any context—not, by any means, a shabby accomplishment, however, and especially when the result is as thoroughly enjoyable as 6 String Theory.

Track Listing: Lay It Down; Am I Wrong; L.P. (for Les Paul); Give Me One Reason; "68"; In Your Dreams; My One and Only Love; Moon River; Why I Sing the Blues;] Daddy Longlegs; Shape of My Heart; Drifting; Freeway Jam; Fives; Caprice, Op. 20, No. 2 and 7.

Personnel: Lee Ritenour: guitar (1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13), nylon string electric guitar (11), arrangement (1-3, 6, 9, 11-13); John Scofield: guitar (1); Harvey Mason: drums (1, 2, 9); Melvin Lee Davis: bass (1, 13); Larry Goldings: organ (1, 5, 14), Fender Rhodes (2, 9), clavinet (2), Wurlitzer (4); Nathan East: bass (2, 9); Keb' Mo': guitar (2, 9), vocals (2, 9), arrangement (2, 9); Taj Mahal: guitar (2), vocals (2); Will Kennedy: drums (3, 8, 11); Pat Martino: guitar (3); Joey DeFrancesco: organ (3, 8); Joe Bonamassa: guitar (4), vocals (4), arrangement (4); Robert Cray: guitar (4), vocals (4); Vinnie Colaiuta: drums (4-6, 14); Tal Wilkenfeld: bass (4-6, 14); Steve Lukather: guitar (5, 6, 11), arrangement (5, 6, 11); Neal Schon: guitar (5, 6); Slash: guitar (5); George Benson: guitar (7, 8), arrangement (7, 8); B.B. King: guitar (9), vocals (9); Vince Gill: guitar (9), vocals (9); Jonny Lang: guitar (9), vocals (9); Joe Robinson: guitar (10), arrangement (10); Andy McKee: steel string acoustic guitar (11), guitar (12), arrangement (12); Paulinho Da Costa: percussion (11, 12); Jimmy Johnson: bass (11, 12); John Beasley: keyboards (11, 12), Fender Rhodes (13); Mike Stern: guitar (13); Simon Phillips: drums (13); Tomoyasu Hotei: guitar (13); Guthrie Govan: guitar (14), arrangement (14); Shon Boublil: guitar (15).

Record Label: Concord Music Group

Style: Contemporary/Smooth


comments powered by Disqus
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Carmen Lundy

Carmen Lundy

About | Enter

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Mort Weiss

Mort Weiss

About | Enter

Rotem Sivan

Rotem Sivan

About | Enter

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.