RICK’S PICKS: Lee Ritenour: Rhythm Sessions (Concorde) / Bassists: Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Nathan East, Melvin Lee Davis, Tal Wilkenfeld, Christian McBride, Chuck Berghoffer, Michael Feinberg
The Album: This aptly titled recording features an array of various all-star rhythm sections that guitarist Lee Ritenour has had the opportunity to work with in his career, which now dates back four decades and totals nearly 45 solo albums. The album is another finely crafted and well-executed collection of wide ranging tunes, as Ritenour’s fans have come to expect. Musical contributions come from some of the very cream of the crop of musicians working today, and include guest appearances by Chick Corea, George Duke, Dave Grusin, Peter Erskine, Vinnie Colaiuta and others.
Ritenour’s deft guitar work ties it all together, as he leads the different ensembles through funk, straight-ahead jazz, odd meters, and a couple of R&B flavored vocal tunes. Particularly notable is the 5/4 “800 Streets By Feet”, the elegant “Rose Petals”, and the funky “LA By Bike”. There is also a cool cover of Agent Sparks’ “Maybe Tomorrow” that features South African artist Zamajobe on vocals. Rit once again puts on his mentoring cap for Rhythm Sessions, just as he did on his previous release Six String Theory. That album included performance contributions from winners of a competition of new guitar talent (alongside some well-known guitar legends); this time around Lee expands the contest to include piano, bass and drums, and the winners perform the Grusin-penned final track “Punta Del Soul”.
The Bassists: We’re talking all-star rhythm sections here, so every bassist on Rhythm Sessions deserves mention, and all deliver great bass performances. Here’s the complete low-end lineup and which tunes they’re playing on:
1. Stanley Clarke (“The Village”)
2. Nathan East (“River Man”, “Rose Pedals”)
3. Melvin Lee Davis (“Fat Albert Rotunda”, “LA By Bike”, “July”)
4. Tal Wilkenfeld (“Maybe Tomorrow”, “Spam-Boo-Limbo”)
5. Marcus Miller (“Fat Albert Rotunda”)
6. Christian McBride (“800 Streets By Feet”)
7. Chuck Berghoffer (“Children’s Song #1”)
8. Michael Feinberg, competition winner (“Punta Del Soul”)
Best Tracks: “LA By Bike”, “Spam-Boo-Limbo”, “Rose Pedals”, “July”