Lee Ritenour – 6 String Theory

It’s hard to believe that 2010 marks 50 years since Lee Ritenour starting playing the guitar, setting in motion a career that legends are made of. A career that has earned him 19 GRAMMY® nominations, a GRAMMY Award, numerous #1 spots on guitar polls, A Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian SJ Awards, and the prestigious “Alumnus of the Year” award from USC. During his illustrious career, he has recorded over 40 albums, with 35 chart songs and was a founding member of the group Fourplay, considered the most successful group in contemporary jazz. As a young guitarist his diverse musical style became the foundation of over 3,000 sessions, covering a broad spectrum of artists ranging from his first session at 16 with the Mamas and Papas, to Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Simon & Garfunkel and Frank Sinatra. On his latest endeavor, 6 String Theory, Ritenour celebrates the instrument that has allowed him this blessing, the guitar; -by producing and assembling a star-studded tribute with the greatest and soon- to- be greatest guitarists of our time.

For 6 String Theory, Ritenour is also among the twenty legendary world class guitarists starring on the recording, which he produced along with John Burk of the Concord Music Group. Joining him in this tribute to the guitar, the all-star line-up includes: George Benson, BB King, Slash, Steve Lukather, John Scofield, Robert Cray and Vince Gill among many other superstars. Blending rock, blues, jazz, acoustic, country and classical, they come together for a seamless project that promises to take the listener on a musical journey and exploration of the guitar. Also featured on vocals are BB King, Robert Cray, Vince Gill, Keb’ Mo’, Taj Majal, Joe Bonamassa and Jonny Lang.

Ritenour also had a musical mission to help launch a new star of the guitar. To do so, he partnered with Yamaha Corp., Berklee College of Music, Monster Music, D’Addario Strings, and Concord Records to hold the international talent search, The Yamaha 6 String Theory Guitar Competition. Hundreds of contestants from over 45 countries posted YouTube videos to enter the competition with six finalists from around the world (one in each musical catagory) selected at a finals competition in Los Angeles in March 2010. Winning top honors was 16-year-old classical guitarist, Shon Boublil, from Montréal, Canada, who as the winner made his debut recording performance on 6 String Theory and received a four-year full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music.

Ranging from 16 year old Shon, 18 year old, Joe Robinson (winner of Australia’s Got Talent) and BB King in his young 80s, 6 String Theory covers it all, from amazingly talented upcoming guitarists to the greatest guitarists of our time. It also shows the high esteem for which Ritenour is held by his peers enabling him to assemble such an awe inspiring cast of musicians to celebrate their mutual love of the guitar. Blending together styles, ages and musical colors, Lee Ritenour’s 6 String Theory promises to be one of the greatest guitar recordings ever made!

Source: Concord Records

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Rico Belled – The Pursuit Of Comfort

This is the story of the making of The Pursuit of Comfort told by Rico Belled.

The pursuit started in 1998 at Jono Brown’s original Word of Mouth studio in West Hills, CA. In three sessions, basic tracks for 7 of the songs on the record were recorded live. We just set up like a band, amps and all, and ran the tunes. Most music at this time was recorded to a click and I wanted to do it the old fashioned way! The point was to make an album with no commercial considerations, no intended ‘radio-format’. Just a group of the best musicians I knew getting together to play some tunes.

Jonathan Dresel played Drums, Jeff Babko and Jay Minor a real Fender Rhodes, Yogi played guitar, and percussion duties were handled by Mike Faue and Ronnie Gutierrez. Lots of stuff was overdubbed by Anne King, David Crozier, Robert Kyle, and Dino Soldo and when my brother visited we recorded one of his tunes with just classical guitar, bongo and baby bass.

Unfortunately, those were not good times for independent artists and when I first started getting into computer based production around 1999, I didn’t have the skills necessary to do these awesome recordings justice. Since there was no budget for mixing/mastering/marketing the project got shelved.

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Marcus Finnie – Boundless

A Memphis native, Marcus “Stix” Finnie began playing drums at church accompanying his mother on organ. From grade school to high school, Marcus began studying classical and jazz music. While playing at Olivet Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, Marcus was told by Grammy winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum that “if you keep practicing and learn to read music, you will play with me someday.” Ten years later during his college days at Middle Tennessee State University, Marcus was invited to record with Kirk Whalum on his album “Into My Soul.”

Since then Marcus has toured with Larry Carlton, Donna Summer, Kirk Whalum, Billy Preston, Joy Williams, Warren Barfield, and Monte Montgomery. He has performed with many artists such as Houston Person, Larry Goldings, Steve Green, Aaron Neville, and CeCe Winans. Marcus has also recorded with Grammy and Stellar Award nominated and winning artists’ Smokie Norful, Donnie McClurkin, American Idols’ Ace Young, country songwriter Rodney Crowell, Vickie Winans, Enrico Galleta, Adam Nitti, Bryan Bellar, and television great Dr. Bobby Jones.

In 2005 Marcus began writing music inspired from sermons, scriptures, family, his wife, and life experiences, a dream of his since grade school. Now in beginning this new journey he plans to perform these pieces not only for listening pleasure, but for reaching hearts all over the world with his music. Following this plan he now released his first album Boundless. The music on the CD represents bits and pieces of this musical journey over the last few years. There is something for every listener to enjoy.

Boundless is available at CDBaby.

Esperanza Spalding – Chamber Music Society

Centuries ago, long before the advent of radio or recording technology, chamber music was the music for the masses – the music in which people from nearly every segment of society could find meaning and relevance. A decade into the 21st century, Esperanza Spalding – the bassist, vocalist and composer who first appeared on the jazz scene in 2008 – takes a contemporary approach to this once universal form of entertainment with Chamber Music Society.

Backed by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and pianist Leo Genovese – and inspired by the classical training of her younger years – Esperanza creates a modern chamber music group that combines the spontaneity and intrigue of improvisation with sweet and angular string trio arrangements. The result is a sound that weaves the innovative elements of jazz, folk and world music into the enduring foundations of classical music.

“So much of my early musical experience was spent playing chamber music on the violin, and it’s a form of music that I’ve always loved,” says Esperanza. “I was very inspired by a lot of classical music, and chamber music in particular. I’m intrigued by the concept of intimate works that can be played and experienced among friends in an intimate setting. So I decided to create my version of contemporary chamber music, and add one more voice to that rich history.”

Chamber Music Society is a place where connoisseurs of classical music and jazz devotees – and fans of other musics as well – can find common ground. The recording offers a chamber music for modern times – one that brings together people of different perspectives and broadens their cultural experience, just as it did in an earlier age.

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Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden – Jasmine

jasmineKeith Jarrett and Charlie Haden back together again! Thirty three years after the break-up of Keith Jarrett’s great “American Quartet” , the pianist and bassist Charlie Haden reunited for an album of standards, played with deep feeling. The program on Jasmine, includes such classic songs as “Body and Soul”, “For All We Know” , “Where Can I Go Without You”, “Don’t Ever Leave Me” and more. Intimate, spontaneous and warm, the album, recorded at Jarrett’s home, has affinities, in its unaffected directness, with his The Melody At Night, With You. Jarrett and Haden play the music and nothing but the music – as only they can.

Early in 2007, Keith Jarrett was invited to contribute some reminiscences to a film documentary about Charlie Haden (Reto Caduff’s “Rambling Boy”). This led to some informal playing together (the first time since the 1976 break-up of the “American Quartet”). A few months later, Jarrett invited Haden to his home studio and they recorded in duo over a four day period in March 2007.

Keith Jarrett (from the liner notes): “This recording was done in my small studio. So it is direct and straightforward. I chose to use the American Steinway that really isn’t at all in the best of shape, yet I have this strange connection with it, and it is better for a kind of informality and slight funkiness that was going to work with the music. With a choice of songs this good, it was hard not to become engaged right away. We did not rehearse per se, but went over chords when necessary….Over close to three years we lived with these tapes, talked a lot about them, disputed over choices, but eventually I found Charlie to be the most remarkable and sensitive helper in getting this finally assembled. I wanted only the distilled essence of what we had, and it took some time to wean ourselves from going for hip solos or unevenly played tunes (even though they had wonderful things inside them). This is spontaneous music made on the spot without any preparation save our dedication throughout our lives that we won’t accept a substitute. These are great love songs played by players who are trying, mostly, to keep the message intact. I hope you can hear it the way we did.”

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Jonathan Butler – So Strong

He is a guitarist, he is a vocalist, but foremost he is the lively personification of joie de vivre. I had the opportunity to attend his performance at Warren Hill’s Smooth Jazz cruise in 2005. When Jonathan Butler goes onstage, he mesmerizes the audience with his incredible voice. his fantastic presence and his charismatic attitude.

He became popular with his huge hits Lies, Sarah, Sarah or More Than Friends. Fostering his popularity with numerous concerts in Europe, South Africa and the US he still maintains the status of a superstar.

His new album So Strong is his 15th solo collection, offering a bouquet of fourteen compelling songs. “You can’t keep your head down all the time. You have to celebrate. With all that’s presently going on in the world, I felt the need to give something to the fans, to offer hope. I had to get to that fun place again. The album is a departure; it’s optimistic and positive. It’s get up-and-dance, and feel good. It’s all about just letting go. It’s about fun with flavor and a lot of feeling. I call it the three Fs: fun, flavor and feeling,” chuckles Jonathan.

Jonathan Butler produced and arranged the album, played most of the instruments, including guitars, bass and keyboards and brought in his friends Rick Braun, Dave Koz, Michael Lington, and Gordon Campbell. Butler’s daughters Randy and Jodie sing background vocals.

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Walter Beasley – Live – In the Groove

Walter Beasley found his roots in Grover Washington’s music. After more than 20 years at the forefront of smooth jazz he is established as one of the most prolific sax players of this genre. He put the base for his position by his work as teacher at Berklee College of Music.

“I was only planning on staying for a year or two, getting a record deal and then moving back to California,” comments Walter. “But once I saw musicians move an audience through the use of techniques that I showed them, I was a sucker for teaching. It was a joy. It moved me. At that point, I made a decision to learn as much about teaching as I could. It’s very important that I give something back and experience as many students as I can”.

“To know that I can play, sing, record, tour and teach – all on my own terms – is the greatest blessing one could ever ask for,” he says. “That’s where I am at this stage. It’s a great thing. There’s really nothing that I can say I want to do differently than what I’m doing right now.”

Graduated from Berklee College of Music in the early ‘80s, Walter took a teaching position on this college a year later. In 1987 he released his self-titled debut album on Polydor, followed by Just Kickin’ It (1989), Intimacy (1992) and Private Time (1995) on Mercury. After Walter Beasley Live and More (1996) on Affable Records and Life and More (1996) on Ignition he signed at Shanachie, where he released Tonight We Love (1997), For Your Pleasure (1998), Won’t You Let Me Love You (2000) and Rendezvous (2002). Go With The Flow (2003) was his interplay on N-Coded Music before he joined Heads Up International releasing For Her (2005), Ready For Love (2007) and in 2009 Free Your Mind. On his website he also offers Sax Meditations (2008) as downloadable music.

His newest album is entitled Live – In the Groove. This is Walter’s second live album since Live and More. It was recorded at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston. Walter comments: “It’s a great record, and I think you would agree it’s a reflection of who I am, and I’m loving it!” For more information about this album read this interview.

Live – In the Groove is now available at CDBaby.

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