Lee Ritenour


Lee Mack Ritenour (born January 11, 1952) is an American guitarist who has been active since the late 1960s, playing numerous styles of jazz. He has been described as a "flawless" "musical chameleon" by AllMusic. Ritenour has won one Grammy Award with a sum of sixteen nominations.


Ritenour was born on January 11, 1952 in Los Angeles, California. At the age of eight he started playing guitar and four years later decided on a career in music. When he was 16 he played on his first recording session with the Mamas & the Papas. He developed a love for jazz and was influenced by guitarist Wes Montgomery. At the age of 17 he worked with Lena Horne and Tony Bennett. He studied classical guitar at the University of Southern California.


Ritenour's solo career began with the album First Course (1976), a good example of the jazz-funk sound of the 1970s, followed by Captain FingersThe Captain's Journey (1978), and Feel the Night (1979).

In 1979, he "was brought in to beef up one of Pink Floyd's The Wall ' heaviest rock numbers, "Run Like Hell". He played "uncredited rhythm guitar" on "One of My Turns".As the 1980s began, Ritenour began to add stronger elements of pop to his music, beginning with Rit (1981). "Is It You" with vocals by Eric Tagg reached No. 15 on the Billboard pop chart and No. 27 on the Soul chart. The track peaked at number fifteen on Hot Adult Contemporary chart. He continued with the pop-oriented music for Rit/2 (1982) and Banded Together(1984), while releasing a Direct-Disk instrumental album in 1983 called On the Line. He also provided rhythm guitar on Tom Browne's album Funkin' for Jamaica. He recorded Harlequin (1985) with Dave Grusin and vocals by Ivan Lins. His next album, Earth Run, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance. The album's title track was also Grammy nominated in the category of Best Instrumental Composition. Portrait (GRP, 1987) included guest performances by The Yellowjackets, Djavan, and Kenny G.

In 1988, his Brazilian influence came to the forefront on Festival, an album featuring his work on nylon-string guitar. He changed direction with his straight-ahead jazz album Stolen Moments which he recorded with saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Harvey Mason. During the same year, he composed the theme song for the Canadian TV series Ramona.


In 1991 Ritenour and keyboardist Bob James formed the group Fourplay. He left the group in 1998 and was replaced by Larry Carlton. He released the career retrospective Overtime in 2005. Smoke n' Mirrors came out the next year with the debut of his thirteen-year-old son, Wesley, on drums.

Celebrating his fifty years as a guitarist in 2010, Ritenour released 6 String Theory, a title that refers to six musical areas covered by the use of guitar.

Ritenour has been a judge for the Independent Music Awards.


Grammy Awards

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Ritenour has received one award out of sixteen nominations.

  • Album of the Year, Jazziz magazine (2010)
  • Best International Instrumentalist, Echo Jazz Award (2011)



Charted singles

With Fourplay

  • 1991 Fourplay
  • 1993 Between the Sheets
  • 1995 Elixir
  • 1997 Best of Fourplay

With L.A. Workshop

  • 1988 Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  • 1994 Norwegian Wood, vol. 2

Other credits

  • 1977 "Strawberry Letter 23" from the album Right On Time by Brothers Johnson
  • 1987 Joyride - track 6 "Midi Citi" - (En Pointe)
  • 1985 American Flyer (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) with Greg Mathieson - GRP

Collections and compilation albums

  • 1980 The Best of Lee Ritenour (Epic EK 36527)
  • 1991 Collection (GRP GRD-9645)
  • 2003 The Very Best of Lee Ritenour (GRP 314-589-281-2)
  • 2003 The Best of Lee Ritenour (tracks 1–8 same as 1980 version, +3 additional tracks) (Epic EK 85795)

As sideman

  • Peggy Lee - Let's Love (1974)
  • Brass Fever – Brass Fever (1975)
  • Oliver Nelson - Skull Session (Flying Dutchman, 1975)
  • Brass Fever – Time Is Running Out (1976)
  • John Handy - Carnival (ABC/Impulse, 1977)
  • Quincy Jones - Roots (A&M, 1977)
  • Dizzy Gillespie – Free Ride (1977)
  • Alphonse Mouzon – Mind Transplant (Blue Note, 1974)
  • Alphonse Mouzon – The Man Incognito (Blue Note, 1975)
  • Joe Henderson – Black Miracle (Milestone, 1976)
  • Stanley Turrentine – Everybody Come On Out (Fantasy, 1976)
  • Lalo Schifrin – Rollercoaster (1977)
  • Paulinho da Costa – Agora (Pablo/Concord, 1977)
  • Eddie Henderson – Comin' Through (Capitol, 1977)
  • David "Fathead" Newman - Keep the Dream Alive (Prestige, 1978)
  • Herb Alpert - Herb Alpert / Hugh Masekela (Horizon, 1978)
  • Pink Floyd – The Wall (Harvest/EMI, 1979)
  • Karimata – Jezz (1991), on "Rainy Days and You" only


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