Lee Ritenour – A Twist of Rit

Is it possible for Captain Fingers to get better? A listen to A Twist of Rit (Concord Records, 2015) is the latest example of guitarist Lee Ritenour outdoing himself. The album is a mix of original tunes and reinventions of classic Rit.

Performers on this date are mostly alums of Rit’s past recordings: keyboardists John Beasley, Dave Grusin and Patrice Rushen; saxophonist Ernie Watts; bassists Melvin Lee Davis and Tom Kennedy; drummers Dave Weckl, Ronald Bruner Jr. and Chris Coleman; and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa. Additional players are Bob Sheppard, saxophone; and Rashawn Ross, flugelhorn. And performing with Rit for the first time are guitarists Michael Thompson, Wah Wah Watson and David T. Walker, and pianist Makoto Ozone.

The energetic “Wild Rice” opens the set. One could argue it’s the best track on the album. But when you listen to the rest, you’re not quite so sure. The remake, arranged by Ritenour and Beasley, is described as a hybrid of something out of the Deep South and Southern California. The background horns, combined with the bass and drum play, give it the feel of one of those 1970s instrumental funk tracks by bands like Brass Construction, Brick or Kool & The Gang. Watts and Beasley contribute solos.

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