Lee Ritenour | Grammy award winning guitarist
After studying jazz at the Stan Kenton summer clinics held at University of Redlands, the guitarist began his professional career at age 16 when John Phillips of the 1960s group The Mamas and the Papas invited him in on a session. During the next two years, he accompanied such artists as Lena Horne and Tony Bennett.
He earned a reputation in the 1970s as a go-to Los Angeles session guitarist, working on albums by Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole and the Bee Gees. He’s also worked with jazz legends such as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Sergio Mendes, Flora Purim, and Gato Barbieri. To date, he has released more than 40 albums, including three with his band, Fourplay. His latest solo work, “A Twist of Rit,” came out in 2015.
Ritenour received a Grammy for collaborating with Dave Grusin on the album, “Harlequin.” His career has spanned five decades and he is the recipient of the prestigious Alumnus of the Year award from USC.
He credits his success mainly to two things – sound preparation and being his own boss.
“I think I’ve been successful because of the mere fact that I’ve been preparing my career since I was young. I started taking lessons at 8 or 9 and then really got serious about it when I was 12,” said Ritenour in a telephone interview from Milan, Italy. “I was the geek or nerd studying music, but I really studied it, everything from guitar to piano to rock and music theory. I took classes at USC when I was in high school. I also realized that it is the music ‘business’ so I studied that part of it, too, and I’m my own boss.”
Although traveling and the business of music can get old, he said, he remains just as passionate about his music as when he first started out.
“I’ve been able to retain my style. Music changes. Times change, but my music – jazz, contemporary jazz and instrumental – has a more narrow audience and one that stays loyal throughout the years.’’
His music also can be enjoyed by audiences worldwide because there isn’t a language barrier. He wrapped up his European tour with performances in Milan and Rome before heading home.
“I’ll go from performing in Rome to Rancho Cucamonga,’ he said.’
The guitarist will be accompanied by Otomaro Ruiz on piano, Melvin Davis on bass and his son Wes Ritenour on drums.
Grammy-winner Lee Ritenour, known for his jazz guitar performances, will perform Saturday at the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga.
A stop on his world tour, his one-night only appearance will feature the eclectic mix of modern jazz and world music that has garnered him much praise. A limited number of tickets remain for the concert.