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Lee Ritenour: Smoke ‘N’ Mirrors

Musicians are often ill-advised to include offspring on their CDs, especially one as young as 13. But Wesley Ritenour probably deserved his chance to be on his Grammy Award-winning dad’s first CD of new material in four years if only because dad goes so far as to give his son credit for the CD’s inspiration. Wesley is an aspiring drummer whose passion for percussion led the senior Ritenour to embark on a polyrhythmic, world-music approach with no less that eight percussionists, including Paulinho Da Costa, Alex Acuna and Sheila E. Wesley is even included on one tune.

The result is a high-energy, satisfying work that only adds to Captain Fingers’ reputation as a master of contemporary jazz rhythms and melodies. South Africa and Brazil are most represented, and Ritenour envelops the sound with 12 guitars, including electric, acoustic, baritione, steel, synthesizer and high-string. The Brazilian vocalist Joyce (full name: Joyce Silveira Palhano de Jesus) is showcased, as is 33-year-old Daniel Jobim, the grandson of the late Antonio Carlos Jobim, on a “Graceland”-like “Blue Days (Dias Azuis).” A 21-year-old female artist from South Africa named Zamajobe, whom Ritenour heard on South African TV during a tour, huskily sings “Memeza,” a song she wrote.

Elsewhere, the CD includes covers of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day,” Dave Grusin’s “Southwest Passage” and Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots.” The latter is noteworthy as it’s Rushen’s first re-doing of her most famous song-she plays keys and does some background vocals while Zamajobe handles the lead.

It’s a smorgasbord of sound, all anchored by Ritenour’s warm playing.

Originally Published