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Lee Ritenour ā€“ Smoke ā€˜nā€™ Mirrors (Peak/Concord)

January 15, 2015

This is the first text I write after an equipment upgrade phase. It’s hard to do any serious listening while you are trying to get into the best possible setting of a new tri-amplified configuration. Nothing better to start than one of my best CDs. If I had to make a list of my favourite albums, this one would be it. Lee Ritenour, whose name is not new here, is also one of my favourite guitarists. He decided to record this album as a result of its world tour, with the goal of becoming a World Music work. We see clearly the preferences to Brazil (already demonstrated during his career) and Africa. The South African singer Zamajobe sings on some tracks, and one of them, Daniel Jobim (grandson) in a duet with Joyce singing Dias Blue with an extremely silky voice. Besides the aforementioned musicians, other big names are part of this work: Richard Bona, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Grusin, John Patitucci, Paulinho da Costa, Brian Bromberg, among other artists. The songs played in this work are excellent for those who like a modern jazz, contemporary and with many touches of world music. The percussions stand out, mainly in the track People . Dias Blue , is sung in Portuguese by Daniel Jobim and Joyce. Memenza in some African dialect by Zamajobe singer. Mr. Lee shines a lot in the compositions and arrangements, with many creative riffs. The last two songs ( Motherland and 4.5 Storms ) look like were purposely left to the end. “You liked the album so far? Let me check if you can take the last two”. You will stay for a few moew minutes sitting incredulously. The last song has a very peculiar feature that I appreciate very much but goes unnoticed by many, that is creativity drummer Vinnie Colaiuta to reverse the battery off to the main rhythm. As if that was not enough with so many adjectives, I can not pass up the use of Silent Guitar Lee Ritenour. It is a guitar which does not have the natural amplification box, it has only a frame, which is the body of the instrument and to provide the structure. It is manufactured exactly in a way to become a silent guitar, the musician can use at home, late at night to study without waking up the dog. When connected to an amplifier, has a very nice and soft sound. On this album, it has a percussive feature, being played with a very attractive dynamics.

Lee Ritenour & amp; Silent Guitar

I have to reserve these final lines to talk specifically about the recording quality. In fact, on the mastering. I have mentioned several times in my blog the name Doug Sax (and I will continue always quoting), which is the legendary owner of the former Sheffield Lab, who now commands the Mastering Lab, where precisely this work was cut. I have to give 50% credit for being one of my favorite CDs to the genius of this audio engineer doing incredible things in their mastering, which end up becoming true piece of art.

Doug Sax

This is a perfect recording, with a strong presence of bass and sub-bass placed strategically where only those with real equipment will notice. The track 13, Motherland is a clear example of this. I’m not writing all I want to avoid this text becoming too long.
When listening track by track, we realize the techincal and artistic connections, and we absorb the whole word as a single history.
Thanks a lot