Lee Ritenour

On the Line

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With JVC midwifing again for the insatiable jazz fans of Japan, Ritenour aims to please -- this time with a series of live-in-the-studio tracks that were recorded with a supermarket of audiophile processes (direct to disk, direct to digital, direct to analog tape). The analog tape version is the one that Elektra/Musician put out in the U.S. later in 1983 -- and it's a rather slight piece of L.A. electric-jazz work, not worth the extra engineering effort. Perhaps they were inhibited by the direct-to-whatever conditions, but then perhaps not, for they're all battle-tested session pros (Ernie Watts, Dave and Don Grusin, Harvey Mason, Nathan East, Anthony Jackson, Greg Mathiesen, Steve Forman, Lenny Castro and Rit himself). The real power failure lies in the ordinary material, which no synthesizer growls or Rit's versatile technique can enliven for long (though "Dolphin Dreams" has some pretty moments). Ambition rears its head when "The Rit Variations" are launched by a neobaroque theme by Spanish composer Federico Mompou, but the track soon slips into the land of cliché.

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