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DVD Review – Lee Ritenour: Overtime

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I first heard Lee Ritenour when I started listening to Fourplay. Before then, I didn’t really listen to much jazz. A friend got me hooked on Pat Metheny, and it all started there.

This DVD is an important contribution to any jazz fan’s collection. It spans Ritenour’s career from the 70s to now, and it does it by featuring not only the music but also the people he played with. And the atmosphere is not what I thought it would be: rather than a “this is Lee Ritenour, and these are the people who I have decided to allow to play with me on this project,” it was “these people are good in their own right: I brought them here to celebrate history, and to make a little as well.” The DVD is also NOT an extended guitar solo. It is very much Lee Ritenour and Friends.

The interaction between artists in this setting is amazing to watch. The fact that they can all improvise so well, and stay close to the theme of the piece, and bring everything back together when it’s time says a LOT for the quality of the musicians that Ritenour assembled for this project. Dave Grusin, Ernie Watts, Patrice Rushen, Anthony Jackson and more — these are not just studio musicians hired to make one man look good. The whole in this case is indeed greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Some standout moments on the DVD:

  • A set featuring the Brazilian music of Ivan Lins, including “Harlequin.”
  • Ritenour’s hand-punishing “Captain Fingers.”
  • My personal favorite: A rendition of Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green.” When I was 10, I used to listen to an AM station in Washington DC that played jazz every Friday and Saturday night from about midnight to six in the morning. This song reminded me a LOT of the songs I used to listen to with that transistor radio under my pillow.

The interviews that are included add a lot to the historical value of the DVD set. This can’t be stressed enough — this is a DVD that has some long-term value to people who are serious fans of jazz, because of the way it covers a 30-year span of time. It’s also a great collection for someone whose jazz collection is looking a bit thin, because right here you can see and hear some great talent.

It’s clear that after 30 years of playing jazz, Lee Ritenour hasn’t lost a step. This collection proves it, and is highly recommended.

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