Lee Ritenour

This Is Love

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Lee Ritenour's first solo album for his new i.e. music label is a good one, one of his best actually, whether staying in the strict jazz-lite format that marks a lot of his previous work or straying into the other idioms that pop up here. Whether emulating Wes Montgomery's octaves or curling around in single-string fashion, Ritenour's playing is irresistibly tasty and swinging, perhaps more so than ever, and the material has real melodic interest -- more so than anything his former group Fourplay was performing around this time. Among the most interesting swerves off the track are the title tune, which mixes reggae with Montgomery in a very appealing way, and a surprisingly effective closing take on Fauré's "Pavanne." There are extended samples from Sonny Rollins' Alfie score, with "Alfie's Theme" grooving away in a cool, soulful, organ-jazz seam and "Street Runner" tracking Rollins' recording, its quicksilver post-bop clip juxtaposed with repose. On both tracks, Ronnie Foster supplies authentic Hammond B-3 -- perhaps fulfilling a Jimmy Smith-meets-Wes Montgomery fantasy. Bill Evans and Ernie Watts take guest turns on tenor on a few cuts; Bob James chips on agreeably on Rhodes electric piano on "Can You Feel It?"; and Ritenour often takes matters into his own hands, programming electronic drums and performing on synthesizers. Hardcore jazzers who wrote Ritenour off as a lightweight ought to hear how he has grown as a mature jazz guitarist on this album.

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