The Best of… Lee Ritenour

The Best of... Lee Ritenour CD CoverWe all have opinions on “best of” albums but none the less we still pick them up in shops. For me I think it is the allure of being able to investigate music from an artist you know little about, not break the bank but still be able to enjoy the wide range of styles they inevitably have in their repertoire.Far from being new to the Jazz scene, Guitarist Lee Ritenour is well renowned in the world of Jazz guitar music and his music is often heard on many smooth jazz radio stations around the globe. His Best of… album brings together covers such as “Isn’t she lovely” with some of his own awesome creations “Captain Fingers” being my favorite example from the album.

As I have hinted his style is predominantly smooth jazz, but there are a couple of lively surprises on the album which awaken ones senses to the true skill of Lee’s work on the guitar. The enjoyable blend of jazz music on this album makes it well worth the money and of course an hour or so to sit down and lend it your ears, although on most tracks you cannot help but feel the style is reminisant of something you have heard before. You wouldn’t be wrong. Lee was one of the original members of the contemporary jazz groups Fourplay and only left the group in 1997 to branch out on his own.

His decision to branch out on his own was most probably the right one as far as my ears were concerned his experience and skill on guitar shines through in all his tracks giving you a unique sense of involvement in the music without being too imposing. I would definitely recommend this album to all fans of smoother music, but before you go out and part with your cash it is worth noting that the musical style of Lee Ritenour isn’t a straight out of the box affair and while this most certainly excites the ears of a smooth jazz aficionado like myself the clear variety of influences in his music may not be to everyone’s taste.

Rating: 3/5


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  1. 21and12 Said,

    January 5, 2006 @ 11:06 pm

    Lee Ritenour was a solo artist well before he was a member of Fourplay. His first album, called “First Course,” came out in 1976. His “Captain Fingers” album was next, coming out in 1978. FYI, since you seem to imply he started with Fourplay and “branched out” from there in 1997. His website can be found at:

  2. Kieran Said,

    January 5, 2006 @ 11:29 pm

    Many thanks for your useful information and weblink. I stand corrected on those points 😉

  3. 21and12 Said,

    January 6, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

    Hey, no problem. If you like the smoother side of jazz, get Rit’s “The Very Best of Lee Ritenour” as opposed to the one you reviewed “The Best of…” “The Best of…” was songs off his first two albums in the 70s. “The Very Best of…” is songs from his smoother 80s and 90s tunes. Also, his latest Overtime is awesome, comes in CD and a 2 DVD set. Recorded live in a studio…”Pappa Was a Rolling Stone” is worth the price of either, has a seering “call and response” between Rit and Chris Botti…and Kenya Hathaway and Grady Ferral on vocals.

  4. Kieran Said,

    January 6, 2006 @ 7:17 pm

    Ah superb, thats worthwhile advice – especially when I have some cd vouchers to use 🙂

    I’m into all kinds of jazz really, depends on the mood I’m in. Lately I have been listening to a lot of smooth jazz though. I used to present a jazz & blues radio show on University Radio York called Jazz Blues Fusion so have come to listen to all sorts from that. (show archives are here if you are interested in having a listen, they will be on this site too soon) In fact it’s missing being a presenter on such a show and having a place to air my views and opinions that made me decide to start slowly posting up reviews/opinions on my CD collection here.

    What kind of jazz are you into? Any artists in particular?

  5. 21and12 Said,

    January 8, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

    Thanks! I’ll check the links out. I usually like jazz that isn’t too experimental, where melody suffers. That’s why I can’t get into some of the youger jazz players who, understandably, are trying to make their own statement, but make inaccessible music. And smooth jazz can get a bit too lite for me.

    I’m also really into chill/downbeat/ electronica – or whatever you want to call it. My wife has a masters in piano and she has turned me on to the iconolastic classical pianist, Glenn Gould. Ever heard of him?

  6. 21and12 Said,

    January 8, 2006 @ 4:24 pm

    PS. Hey, when I saw your music link I saw it as University Radio New York – not University Radio York. Cool! My mother-in-law is originally from England and my wife, of course, affectionately refers to her as “Mum.”

    Sampled some of the shows – good stuff, never know what’s coming next!


  7. Kieran Said,

    January 8, 2006 @ 10:37 pm

    Glad you like the shows 🙂

    The variety I put in was to try and please all jazz and blues tastes of members of the Jazz and Blues Society, a student run body at the univeristy. URY is in a way the best UK student radio station as it was the first independent station in the UK and was also opened by the late John Peel who was it’s first ever DJ. Makes you proud to have presented on it 😉

    Where abouts in England was your mother-in-law from?

    I agree with you on the chill and electronica, like it quite a bit. Groups like Enigma, Groove Armada, Zero 7, Air and the like are my favorites

    Younger jazz players I agree with you on the most part as well. A prime example is Jamie Cullum who although does reasonable music, its hard to get into because of unfamiliar and almost non-jazz like melodies.

    I have definitely heard of Glenn Gould, but can’t say I have heard any of his music – will have to check some of it out.

    Where abouts in the states are you from if you don’t mind me asking?

  8. 21and12 Said,

    January 10, 2006 @ 12:33 am

    My mother-in-law is originally from Banbury. She’s been living in the States since 1963, but has family still in England.

    Oh yes, on the electronica groups. Tosco, Massive Attack, Thievery Corportation, etc.

    I think American popular music is at its nadir. You know why? Technology. It’s simulated music to re-hashed rytthyms that are literally interchangeable. Hardly no musicians save computer programmers! MAriah Carey performed “live” for a New Years Eve prgram – not only was it appalling, it was down right embarrasing.

    I live in Vestavia Hills, Alabama – a suburb of Birmingham.

    Have you heard of the jazz group EST – they’re young guys who are really good.

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