I should have done the first one earlier, but there were certain circumstances that involve an armada of cleaning supplies, an empty apartment, and a war of “me versus the kitchen” that have delayed this installment.
So, let me start of with…
The Blue Note, and the Red Guitar: Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Joel Rosenblatt, and Melvin Davis.
The Note doesn’t fail me, ever. If I ever think, “Geeze, time to see a show I won’t catch for a LONG time otherwise”, I go straight towards that lineup. Fourplay with Chuck Loeb? Check. Dave Brubeck, even though I missed that one? Chuck Mangione, missed it too? Check and check. Lee Ritenour, original Fourplay guitarist? Oh, definitely not missing that one. Check!
That’s what I was thinking at the time that I booked Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin. Definitely a duo that goes back before my time; these two have been in the business longer than I’ve been alive. And I am very much a guitar-and-piano girl, so when Dave and Lee came to the Note, I wasn’t going to miss it.
I will confess that the reason I like Ritenour’s style is because it’s a step away from what I normally listen to, and a fair bit of a throwback to Antonio Carlos Jobim. Indeed, Lee’s take on Stone Flower was excellent. The way he plays is true to form and thoughtful, almost contemplative. Similar can be said for Stolen Moments, another clear favorite of mine.
One of the highlights was Dave’s signature: an excerpt out of his score for The Firm.While not a fan of the movie, having the score – all in a crisp piano – played in a cozy place like the Note was something else. I was able to focus a lot more at the intricacy of the score, and the almost casual movements of his hands across the keys.
A brief funny moment: when Lee was introducing some tracks off Six String Theory, Melvin Davis was sitting by him with the seven-string bass. The following exchange took place:
Lee: The Six String Theory project was put together with some great people. Paul Brown… *lists the names*
Melvin, off the mic: …Shaddup.
Priceless. But Lee does tend to not share the mic. :)
Nonetheless, Lay it Down was a fantastic track and, dare I say, so was the rest of the album. And, upstairs, Lee commandeered the gift shop counter right along the salesladies for conversations, autographs, and the token “Great show!” that came from everyone as they ventured his way.
The following week, there was…
Spirit Cruises and the Rippingtons.
Not my first time seeing this show – I saw them last year too – and I was happy to be aboard the ship again. Russ Freeman and Jeff Kashiwa are both on my Favorites List for other projects: Jeff was charming with Hyde Park, and Russ Freeman teamed with David Benoit for The Benoit-Freeman Project, I and II. I have a particular affinity to the first one. But I digress.
Need I even say it, though? Amazing show, and a fantastic song selection. Of the featured favorites, there was Black Diamond from the CD of the same name. Their take on Indian Summer, a good deal more tropical-themed than the variations I know from other artists. Jeff Kashiwa, who made the rounds with the sax on When It Feels Good – not too mellow, just that side of casual, and still seamlessly integrated with the more fast-paced Ripps sound that we all know and love. And – also newly iTuned and into my collection – Modern Art, also from the CD of the same name. Something about that track is an instant feel-happy effect, and lo! – the smiles were everywhere.
Of course, Russ Freeman loves his inner rocker, which got released – and how!! – with the finale. I could have sworn, though not offhand, that South Beach Mambo was what clicked in my memory. I do love my guitars aplenty, and Freeman confirmed exactly why.
I know, not as long of a writeup as I usually do, but because I’ve fallen behind – argh! – and because I’ve had my hands quite full with non-blogging matters, it is not as detailed. There will be other shows, though, which I will take you along with me through my own words.
A happy birthday to Billy Heller, the keyboardist to the Ripps, and here’s to chasing music yet again!