DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Lee Ritenour & Band – Overtime, Blu-ray (2012)

Guitarist Lee Ritenour has here the winner of his video concert career.

Published on June 22, 2012

Lee Ritenour & Band – Overtime, Blu-ray (2012)

Performers include: Lee Ritenour, elec. and acoustic guitars; Dave Grusin, piano & Fender Rhodes; Ivan Lins, vocals & Fender Rhodes; Patrice Rushen, piano/Fender Rhodes/synths; Harvey Mason & Oscar Seaton, drums; Chris Botti, trumpet; Kenya Hathaway, vocals; Steve Forman, percussion; Ernie Watts, tenor & sop. sax & many others
Studio: Eagle Eye Media EE8334139 [6/19/12]
Video: 16:9 color 1080i HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, PCM stereo
Extras: Interviews between selections, four sel. from Montreux appearance
Length: 174 minutes
Rating: *****

This lengthy concert is surely the best video of the renowned jazz guitarist one could possibly find, and a wonderful demonstration of both the highest video quality of music concerts on Blu-ray as well as demonstrating the hi-def surround involvement of the DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack. Lee Ritenour has been a major solo artists since 1976, and has played in a variety of styles, including pop (with Tony Bennett, Steely Dan and Pink Floyd among others), fusion, funk, acoustic, and Brazilian.

For this well-planned session he brought together many of his old cohorts from the days of their direct discs, including pianist/composer/arranger Dave Grusin, plus several new faces just starting out, including vocalist Kenya Hathaway, a daughter of Donny Hathaway. What makes the layout of the musicians different and highly conducive to great cooperation and interplay is the setting in Burbank’s Enterprise Studios, which only has a small area in the rear for a few friends of the musicians to assemble. The performers are grouped in a circle in the studio, facing one another and drawing off one another’s energies. Actually, Lee has his back to the small audience most of the time, a la Miles Davis, except that he’s always smiling and having a terrific time of it. Everyone seems to thoroughly enjoy themselves, and that makes the long repetition that sometimes occurs in this jamming performance easier to take.

The program is divided into four parts: First there is an almost Unplugged section with acoustic guitar, then into Brazilian music with vocalist/composer from Brazil Ivan Lins, then some of Lee’s early fusion work, and finally some popular tracks from more recent albums, many featuring the two vocalists, trumpeter Chris Botti and flutist Eric Marienthal. The camerawork is excellent, with many sweeping over the musicians shots from a moving crane. And the immersing lossless DTS surround draws one into the proceedings, even though occasionally there are closeups of some exotic percussion being shaken though one hears none of it on the soundtrack. Different performers are switched between the tunes, and there are occasional breaks with very short talking-head comments by Lee and some of the other musicians about the session and how much fun it was.

The Montreux selections at the end make an interesting contrast, since they adopt the usual layout of the musicians facing the large audience in front of the stage. There’s really almost too much here for one sitting; I viewed the program over two nights.

TrackList:
1. Party Time
2. Blue In Green
3. Mizrab
4. Sugarloaf Express
5. Harlequin
6. Beyond The Storm
7. Dinorah Dinorah
8. P.A.L.S.
9. Captain Fingers
10. Morning Glory
11. Captain Caribe
12. Night Rhythms
13. A Little Bumpin’
14. Water To Drink
15. Possibilities
16. Papa Was A Rolling Stone
17. Is It You?
18. Thirteen
19. She Walks This Earth

Montreux Jazz Festival 2011:
4 tunes in wrong order on box: West Bound, The Firm, Lay It Down, but final track is Stolen Moments.

—John Henry




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