395

Lee Ritenour: 6 String Theory

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Lee Ritenour: 6 String Theory 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 and Joe Bonamassa) and mainstream jazz (the incendiary "L.P.," with Ritenour joined by straight-ahead hero Pat Martino and organist Joey DeFrancesco, and a swinging "Moon River," with the equally mislabelled George Benson in full-out bop mode). There's some pedal-to-the-metal guitar pyrotechnics when Steve Lukather, 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 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 on Max Middleton's classic boogie, "Freeway Jam," where Ritenour tears it up with Mike Stern 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. 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. 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).

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Concord Music Group | Style: Contemporary/Smooth


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "The Beauty of Disaster" CD/LP/Track Review The Beauty of Disaster
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 22, 2016
Read "Storyteller" CD/LP/Track Review Storyteller
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 5, 2017
Read "The Magical Forest" CD/LP/Track Review The Magical Forest
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "The Ray Davies Songbook" CD/LP/Track Review The Ray Davies Songbook
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 2, 2016
Read "Guitarist, Alone" CD/LP/Track Review Guitarist, Alone
by John Eyles
Published: August 5, 2016
Read "Rehab Reunion" CD/LP/Track Review Rehab Reunion
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 11, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!