Lee Ritenour

First Course

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In the first flush of a blossoming career as a first-call studio guitarist, Ritenour set out to become a solo artist as well in this artifact of the early L.A. jazz/funk sound. He rounded up some of his pals from the Baked Potato club in Studio City -- including the archetypical funk drummer Harvey Mason, keyboardists Dave Grusin and Patrice Rushen and horn stalwarts like Tom Scott, Chuck Findley and Frank Rosolino. At this early stage, Ritenour's own identity is still quite diffuse; he knows how to establish a fine rhythm groove but his tone is generic in a mostly rock-oriented vein. The arrangements are tightly set, very much of their funky time in the wake of the Headhunters and L.A. Express, yet these tracks convey a vicarious energy that lift them above the journeyman level. There is also a very pretty interlude for classical guitar, "Memories Past," and a sweet rendition of Jobim's little known "Ohla Maria" set in velvet, reminders that Lee's versatility dates back to his earliest professional days.

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