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Friday September 13, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday September 13, 2013 MYT 8:12:14 AM
by revathi murugappan
Guitarist Lee Ritenour is on a mission to nurture young talent.
The legendary guitarist is looking for new talent.
OVER the past 50 years, contemporary jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour has enjoyed an eclectic career with multiple accolades but his current mission is to nurture young talent.
As the creator of Ritenour Rhythm Sessions Competition, the Grammy award-winning musician is on a campaign to discover new talent. Originally created for guitars only, the competition now includes other instruments. The event started in 2010 when he celebrated his 50th year of playing the guitar.
“I was aware that many talented musicians were using YouTube to get their start. In 2010, I recorded an All-Star/legends guitar record called Six String Theory. I had many legendary guitarists recording with me but then I also thought it would be exciting ... to search for brand new talent for the record. That is how the contest started,” says Ritenour in an e-mail interview.
“In 2012, I started the Rhythm Session album and centred the release on the guitar. I wanted to have guest rhythm sections with great performers like Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, etc. So, I thought that we should expand the competition to find a great rhythm section. The last track, Punta Del Soul, on the Rhythm Session release, included the winners of the guitar and rhythm competition and I really enjoyed the formula of mixing brand new talent with established talent on a level playing field.”
Ritenour and his band will be performing tomorrow at the Kuala Lumpur International Jazz Festival (KLIJF). Fans can expect a diverse set from him. Making music is what he does best so he continues to churn out albums and works hard at it.
“My albums are like my extended family so it’s very hard to pick my favourite, but a few that stand out include Captain Fingers, Rit, Harlequin, Rio, Festival, Stolen Moments, Wes Bound and Six String Theory.
“Inspiration comes from different places but song writing is like anything in life ... the more you do it, the better it gets,” adds the 61-year-old guitarist.
He was five when he started strumming by putting rubber bands on broomsticks. His father, though not a professional musician, was musical, and bought him a guitar when he was eight.
He recalls: “It was in the 1960s and ... rock, blues, folk and jazz were all exploding and the guitar was all over the television. So as an eight-year-old I was influenced by all that. My father introduced me to jazz and by the age of 12, I knew that I wanted to play professionally!”
At 16, he played his first gig with the Mamas & The Papas and at 18, played with Lena Horne and Tony Bennett. Ritenour was given the moniker “Captain Fingers”, because of his manual dexterity on the guitar. He cites guitarist Wes Montgomery, who introduced the use of octaves in both melody and improvisation, as his greatest influence.
From rock to blues to jazz, his diverse music became the foundation of over 3,000 sessions as a young guitarist with a broad spectrum of artistes (Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, B.B. King, Frank Sinatra, Simon & Garfunkel and more). With over 40 albums to his name, he has played with some of the greatest musicians, but Ritenour’s favourite collaborator remains his good friend, Dave Grusin.
Ritenour stays on top of his game by trying to discover new music and new players to play with, irrespective of whether they’re established legends or up-and-coming young ones.
For aspiring jazz guitarists, Ritenour has this to say: “Study all kinds of music and study with good teachers; don’t just copy from YouTube videos! Try to come up with your own style and don’t copy any one guitarist too much.”
The KLIJF will take place on Sept 14 from 11am to midnight at Universiti Malaya. Festival Village entry tickets are priced at RM60 while all access tickets begin from RM138. Tickets are available at: www.tickethotline.com.my or by calling (03) 7725-1177. Log on to www.klinternationaljazz.com for information.
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Entertainment, Entertainment, Jazz, Music, Guitarist, Lee Ritenour
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