True to its intriguing and provocative title, Lee Ritenour
's latest CD Smoke N' Mirrors
takes listeners on a magical, multi-faceted global journey unlike any other in the legendary guitarist's three decade, nearly 40 album career. Inspired by his very first trip to South Africa in 2005, where he performed five hugely successful concerts at festivals in Johannesburg and Capetown, with Smoke N' Mirrors
, Ritenour takes an expansive, polyrhythmic approach, working with musicians from South Africa, Cameroon-West Africa, Brazil, Columbia, Peru and India. Also joining him on this recording is an exciting mix of old friends who happen to be some of America's top jazz performers. Among those featured are pianists Dave Grusin
and Patrice Rushen
; drummer Vinnie Colaiuta
; along with bassists John Patitiucci, Brian Bromberg, Abraham Laboriel
and Richard Bona
. There are eight percussionists on the record including Sheila E., Alex Acuna
and Paulinho Da Costa
and on tables is Satnam Ramgotra
from India. Ever the innovator, Ritenour employs a total of 12 guitars, his most ever, to achieve what can only be described as sonic perfection. These include the Gibson Lee Ritenour Model and a wide variety of baritone, steel and high string guitars.
Smoke N' Mirrors also marks the American recording debut of South African singing sensation Zamajobe on three songs as well as the composing and recording debut of Ritenour's thirteen- year-old son Wesley Ritenour, a highly talented drummer. Wes adds brushes to Zamajobe's original song, the exotic call and response anthem "Memeza," and also composed the graceful melody of the soulful and atmospheric "Stone Cool."
"The concept for the album came from a lot of different sources, all of which coalesced with my trip to South Africa," Ritenour says. "I'd been getting letters for years asking me to come and perform there. I did a lot of touring throughout the U.S., Asia and Europe during 2005, and everything timed nicely for me to play in Capetown and Johannesburg in late August after my Western European dates. While the festivals there included some American acts, I was more excited by the native African players and some of the most intoxicating percussion and rhythm guitar playing I'd ever heard. Over the years, I have become more and more attracted to African music, and this trip solidified that connection for me."