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Ritenour, Lee: Smoke 'n' Mirrors

Whether it be as an all-star studio session musician, a solo artist, or a member of the popular band Fourplay, guitarist Lee Ritenour has made his mark on the jazz-fusion scene over the last three decades. Appearing on nearly 40 albums, Ritenour's silky smooth mix of acoustic and electric guitar styles has won him fans the world over, and has awarded him the opportunity to play with many other stars of the jazz world. His latest solo album Smoke 'n' Mirrors is no exception, as he is joined here by pianists Dave Gruisin and Patrice Rushen, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassists John Pattitucci, Brian Bromberg, Abraham Laboriel, and Richard Bona, plus percussionists Sheila E, Alex Acuna, Satnam Ramgotra, and Paulinho Da Costa. Ritenour plays a total of 12 different guitars on the album, so you get a lot of different flavors, both acoustic and electric, and the album itself was influenced by Lee's recent trip to South Africa. The listener can expect a mix of South African and Latin sounds, done with the usual Ritenour smooth jazz flair that features plenty of hot axe work.

While the acoustic based numbers are relaxing and laid back affairs ("Stone Cool" is especially breezy), it's the pieces featuring Lee's electric playing that really excite here, like the Wes Montgomery influenced "Spellbinder", the majestic title track, the sophisticated blues/jazz of "Povo" (what a tone on this one!), the funky Latin backbeats of "Township", and the ripping grooves of "4 1/2 Storms", featuring plenty of intricate acoustic & electric guitar, as well as burning bass from Bono. However, the most engaging piece here is the Dave Gruisin classic "Southwest Passage", one of the all-time greatest contemporary jazz melodies ever written, and the guitarist is joined by none other than the legendary Gruisin himself.

This is a fun album from Lee Ritenour, who always manages to please with each release. There are a fair amount of vocal pieces here featuring the South African vocalist Zamajobe, so be prepared for some numbers with a bit of a jazz-reggae feel to them amidst the instrumental pieces. It's a well rounded release that should please cool jazz fans world wide.

1. Smoke N' Mirrors
2. Capetown
3. Southwest Passage
4. Waterz Edge
5. Blue Days
6. Spellbinder
7. Memeza
8. Povo
9. Lovely Day
10. Township
11. Forget Me Nots
12. Stone Cool
13. Motherland
14. 4 1/2 Storms

Added: August 9th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Lee Ritenour Website
Hits: 2426
Language: english

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