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Lee Ritenour at the Blue Note August 20, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel.

Another month, another concert at the Blue Note in Greenwich Village. Friday night, I saw guitarist Lee Ritenour with special guest Dave Grusin.

My recap of the Spyro Gyra show I saw at Blue Note in May caught the attention of Art Jackson of Smooth Jazz Magazine. Art asked to put most of it in the July/August issue and I eagerly agreed. He also asked if there were any shows I’d like to attend as a photographer on behalf of the magazine. I told him I was interested in seeing Lee Ritenour the week he was at Blue Note. Like Earl Klugh last month, I had never seen him – or Dave Grusin, for that matter – live. However, I interviewed him twice for The Mike Chimeri Show on Webradio WCWP (now MyWCWP) a decade ago.

I had in mind Friday night at 8:00. Art came through.

I arrived outside at 5:00. I was second in line this time, behind a jazz concert regular named Celeste. We had a great conversation and time flew by. Before we knew it, it was 6:00 and we went in.

I sat in my usual spot right by the stage, but I wasn’t there for long. I felt cramped and closed in. So, I asked for a different table and the staff was very accommodating. Not many shots below were taken at the table. I mostly walked adjacent to the stage in brief spurts to avoid getting in the audience’s way.

Lee Ritenour was on guitar:




Dave Grusin was on piano, except on the first song:


…and briefly on keyboard:


Otherwise, Giorgi Mikadze played the keyboards:

Giorgi was a 2014 grand prize winner of Lee’s annual Six String Theory competition.



Tom Kennedy on acoustic and electric bass:


…and Lee’s son Wes – named after the late guitarist Wes Montgomery – on drums:

Wes is two weeks older than my cousin Steve.




Here was the 8:00 set on Friday night:
1. The Village
Originally heard on: Rhythm Sessions, 2012

2. Waltz for Carmen
Originally heard on: Stolen Moments, 1990; A Twist of Rit, 2015

3. Punta del Soul
Originally heard on: Migration (Dave Grusin), 1989; Rhythm Sessions, 2012

4. Stone Flower (Antonio Carlos Jobim cover)
Originally heard on: A Twist of Jobim, 1997

5. Wes Bound
Originally heard on: Wes Bound, 1993; Alive in L.A., 1997

6. Pearl
Originally heard on: A Twist of Rit, 2015

7. (Dave Grusin song I didn’t recognize; unidentified by Lee)

8. A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That
Originally heard on: First Course, 1976; Rio, 1979; A Twist of Rit, 2015

9 (Finale). Wild Rice
Originally heard on: First Course, 1976; A Twist of Rit, 2015

A few wide shots from my table:


Lee introduced the band one last time at the end:

This was the first Blue Note show I’ve been to with a meet-and-greet. I brought a copy of Lee’s 1998 album, This is Love, the first album of his I ever bought. Rit’s House, The Very Best of Lee Ritenour, and Overtime would follow. Then, I gradually filled my collection with every other album in his discography. After A Twist of Rit came out last summer, I completed the collection to date with First Course, Gentle Thoughts, and The Captain’s Journey. The title track from that last album came up in my iPod’s shuffle during my run earlier in the day.

I introduced myself, Lee signed the album, and he told me that his son Wes was on the cover. I never knew that was him. Before leaving the line, we posed for a picture.

Before gathering my belongings and taking the subway and LIRR back home, I ran into Wes downstairs. I complimented his performance and showed him the CD. Then, we posed with it. The picture took several tries, as the patron I lent the camera to initially shot above the CD, but Wes was patient.

I wished him luck with the second set, packed up, and headed for home.

Thank you to Lee, Wes, Dave, Giorgi, Tom, and the Blue Note staff for another great night at the legendary venue.

If you’d like to see Lee and the band perform, you have two more nights to do so.



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