Jazz being the most spontaneous and improvisational of all musical forms, it's often best appreciated in a live setting, where artistry can take over for commercial considerations and jamming for minutes on end is encouraged. Lee Ritenour has enhanced his pop-jazz catalog in recent years with projects featuring tunes that would lend themselves to such creative stretching, and so wraps up his long run at GRP with Alive in L.A., a brilliantly realized, no-overdubs-allowed ensemble date that delves into his diverse interests, from Brazilian to straight-ahead trio jazz and blues. Fans who know him best from his lighthearted radio fare may just be astounded at his chops, which do proud the grand traditions of his idol Wes Montgomery, and even try to reach a bit beyond. Recorded over three nights at the Ash Grove in Santa Monica, CA, Ritenour finds a gang of musicians even more explosive than his Fourplay pals in saxman Bill Evans (who wails heartily on Wes Montgomery's odd metered "4 on 6"), keyboardists Alan Pasqua and Barnaby Finch, and drummer Sonny Emory. Rit's clearly in charge, but it's the energetic company he keeps that makes this a hard-grooving, unforgettable date.
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