Jazz

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Rit's Rhythm

29 NOV 12 JOHN C. BRUENING

In recent years, veteran guitarist Lee Ritenour has committed himself to seeking out and spotlighting young musical talent. His Six String Theory project, originally launched in 2009 as an international search for up-and-coming guitarists -- and the inspiration for his previous album, 6 String Theory -- is the most obvious evidence of this. Rhythm Sessions, his latest recording, is the next chapter in this effort.

The roster is filled with luminaries who take the project well beyond its original guitar parameters. Keyboardists Chick Corea, George Duke and Dave Grusin, as well as bassists Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller are just a part of these Sessions. Also on hand are the winners of Ritenour's 2012 Rhythm Section Competition: keyboardist Hans de Wild (Holland), pianist Demetrius Nabors (Michigan), bassist Michael Feinberg (New York) and drummer Selim Muinir (Turkey). The weave of veterans and newcomers makes for an eclectic recording that transcends the boundaries of jazz and explores Latin, funk, Euro rock and world music.

The opener, "The Village," is an exotic African shuffle whose 12/8 rhythm is driven by Duke, Clarke and drummer Dave Weckl. Also noteworthy are covers of two songs by Swedish jazz group EST -- "800 Street By Feet" and "Spam Boo Limbo," the former featuring Ritenour's 19-year-old son Wesley on drums -- and the funky take on Stereophonic's "Maybe Tomorrow," featuring South African artist Zamajobe on vocals. The Rhythm Section Competition winners all convene for the Latin funk groove of the closer, "Punta Del Soul," a Grusin composition that expands effortlessly here to allow everyone room to shine.

"I wanted to bring as many voices as possible into this record -- some well established, some brand new, and tie it all together with the guitar sound that I feel has become my trademark," says Ritenour. "I put some serious time and love and care into my records. They are projects that I never take lightly. They're too important to me. I hope people get that out of my records, especially this one."