Archive for August 21st, 2012

Lee Ritenour – Rhythm Sessions

Ritenour Embarks on Innovative Musical Journey with All-Star Rhythm Sections Including Chick Corea, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Dave Grusin, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller and Winners of his Annual Six String Theory International Competition

“I always thought it’s a very cool model to combine very well-known, almost legendary players with completely new talent on the same record. I love that scenario. It’s not a format that many people have followed before, but I’ve always considered it a fascinating experiment, and a way to create some great sounds.”……..Lee Ritenour

In a career that spans five decades and more than 40 albums, guitarist Lee Ritenour has developed a keen understanding of the symbiotic balance between the frontman and the supporting players, between the wisdom of experience and the enthusiasm of youth. On Rhythm Sessions, Ritenour’s new album set for release on Concord Records, September 25, 2012 (international release dates may vary) he surrounds himself with a cadre of high-profile veterans and promising newcomers – all of whom reaffirm the vital role played by the rhythm section in any worthwhile musical endeavor.

Included on the Rhythm Sessions roster are luminaries like Chick Corea, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Dave Grusin, Marcus Miller and many others. Also appearing throughout the record are the winners of Ritenour’s 2012 Rhythm Section Competition, an international event he launched in 2009 as a guitar competition and later expanded to include aspiring keyboardists, bassists and percussionists. The competition winners appearing on the album include keyboardist Hans de Wild (Holland), pianist Demetrius Nabors (Michigan), bassist Michael Feinberg (New York) and drummer Selim Munir (Turkey). The album also features Ritenour’s 19-year-old son Wesley, an aspiring drummer in his own right on one of the tracks. Continue reading

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Project Grand Slam – Spring Dance

You can read a brief history of New York-based Project Grand Slam on their website. I want to get on and tell you about their sophomore album ‘Spring Dance’.

The title track, which also opens the album, is an ensemble piece with some very lively brass – it’s almost a big band sound. And I mean that in the most complimentary way: there really is a lot of energy in this instrumental tune and I can imagine its reception at gigs must be great. As the song opens out, it takes on a gospel tinge and my comment about a good live song gets reinforced. The heavily-processed vocals on the intro to ‘Joe Z’ and some heavy African influences point to a homage to Joe Zawinul. This certainly is nowhere close to ‘smooth jazz’ and some muscular drumming and a great Rhodes solo underline that.

I’m a huge fan of records where the artist can take you through changes of mood and pace. ‘Ma Petite Fleur’ could scarcely be more different from the previous song. Some very soulful piano and soprano sax, plus that lazy waltz time make this a very classy production. Strands of gospel weave in and out of the piano solo – I just love it! The breathy tenor sax that opens the vocal ‘Remember’ is truly soulful. Guest vocalist Joye Hennessey delivers a pleading lead vocal and there’s something in her delivery that makes me think we’ll hear much more from her.

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