Wednesday, June 3, 2009

DVD of the Day - "Lee Ritenour: Overtime"

DVD of the Day
Lee Ritenour: "Overtime" (VideoArts/ST2) 2004/2009

This 19 song 2-DVD set covers Ritenour's music from the 70s to the present. It covers four distinct areas starting out with acoustic jazz and moving into Brazilian music with Ivan Lins, fusion days at The Baked Potato including the original band of Dave Grusin, Patrice Rushen, Anthony Jackson, Harvey Mason, Ernie Watts, and Steve Forman, as well as many of his popular 80s smooth-jazz songs like "Is It You?". There are also some new songs, with guest vocalists Kenya Hathaway (Donny Hatthaway's daughter and Lalla's sister) & Grady Harrell.

With his distinctly fluid playing style, Lee Ritenour has established himself as one of the world's leading jazz fusion guitarists. Dubbed "Captain Fingers" for his manual dexterity, Ritenour began his career in the early 1970s as a session player for artists as diverse as the Mamas and the Papas, Tony Bennett, Pink Floyd, Sergio Mendes and Dizzy Gillespie before launching his career as a leader. Since then, Ritenour's long and varied career has moved from traditional jazz and jazz fusion in the 1970s to Brazilian music (when he toured Brazil with Sergio Mendes in 1974 and recorded the ultra-rare LP "Um Encontro" with Oscar Castro-Neves for Aloysio de Oliveira's Evento label - yes, Evento, Aloysio's label associated with EMI-Odeon in the 70s, not the legendary Elenco label from the 60s), and the smooth GRP-style in he 1980s and '90s, counting 3000-plus recording sessions as a sideman.

The aptly titled "Overtime", directed & edited by Charley Randazzo, with the big budget provided by executive producer Hisao Ebine (the big boss of the famous Japanese company VideoArts Music aka VAM) captures Ritenour revisiting several periods of his career with a selection of 19 songs that feature appearances by longtime cohorts Dave Grusin, Patrice Rushen, Anthony Jackson, Harvey Mason, Ernie Watts, and Steve Forman (all of whom played with Ritenour at the legendary Los Angeles jazz club the Baked Potato in the late 70s) as well as more recent collaborators such as alto saxophonist & flutist Eric Marienthal (from Chick Corea's Elektric Band), trumpeter Chris Botti, drummer Oscar Seaton, bassist Melvin Davis and vocalist Kenya Hathaway, who sings lead on "Morning Glory" and returns with male singer Grady Harrell to backing efforts on "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" and "Is It You?"

Other sidemen are former Weather Report member Alex Acuña (on percussion), keyboardist Barnaby Finch, and bassist Dave Carpenter.

Oddly, this charming, silky and hip DVD, filmed in front of an audience of guests at the Enterprise Studios (Hollywood) between Match & August 2004, doesn't bring any information about the composers. So, unless you are familiar with the songs, you'll not know that "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" was a huge #1 Pop hit (on the Billboard Hot 100) for the Motown group The Temptations in 1972; the centerpiece of the "All Directions" LP, it won three Grammy awards in '73. Neither that "Thirteen" was originally written by Gary McFarland for the score to a 1967 film called "13", and later retitled "Eye of the Devil."

The legendary late Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo was "luckier" because Ritenour introduces his name to the audience as the composer of "Mizrab," the mysterious title tune from Gabor's first album for CTI in 1972. Ivan Lins guests (doing vocals, playing Fender Rhodes and a small pandeiro) on four tracks: "Harlequin," "Beyond The Storm," "Dinorah Dinorah" and the closing theme "She Walks This Earth." There's a nice take of Miles Davis/Bill Evans' "Blue in Green," an interesting arrangement of Jobim's "Water to Drink" and a new version of Ritenour's own virtuosistic "Captain Fingers." "Overtime" has also been released as a 13-track single CD, which opens with a Wes Montgomery tune, "Boss City," unfortunately not included on the DVD.

1. Party Time
2. Blue In Green
3. Mizrab
4. Sugarloaf Express
5. Harlequin
6. Beyond The Storm
7. Dinorah Dinorah
8. P.A.L.S.
1. Captain Fingers
2. Morning Glory
3. Captain Caribe
4. Night Rhythms
5. A Little Bumpin'
6. Water To Drink
7. Possibilities
8. Papa Was A Rolling Stone
9. Is It You?
10. Thirteen
11. She Walks This Earth

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