Sweet fusion from the great Lee Ritenour – three classic albums on two CDs! First up is Captain's Journey – a masterful fusion set from guitarist Lee Ritenour – one that expands his sound a bit more than usual by adding in vocals on a number of tracks – but in a way that really gets at the mainstream soul influences that bubble through his jazz work! The set features key vocal appearances from Patti Austin, Tom Baylor, and Bill Champlin – all singers who really know how to respect the instrumental side of a tune, too – which is great, given that the record also features keyboards from Dave Grusin and Patrice Rushen too. Titles include "That's Enough For Me", "Sugarloaf Express", "What Do You Want", "Matchmakers", "Morning Glory", and "The Storm".
Feel The Night is a key album from a time when Lee was still very much at the top of his game! Although tight overall, the album's never too commercial to be cloying – and Lee's approach here is a great example of the way that mainstream 70s fusion managed to balance all its best elements nicely – from soulful rhythms on the bottom, to sharp-edged solos on the top, to some of the smoother studio glue that holds the whole thing together in the middle! Ritenour plays a range of different guitars – and other players include Don and Dave Grusin on keyboards, plus keys from David Foster as well – plus saxes from Ernie Watts, piano from Joe Sample, and drums from Steve Gadd. Patti Austin sings a bit on the set, but the album's a mostly-instrumental affair overall – and titles include "Feel The Night", "Market Place", "Wicked Wine", "French Roast", and "Midnight Lady".
Rio is smooth jazzy fusion from Lee Ritenour – a classic set that was originally only released in Japan, part of the underground Japanese Fusion movement of the late 70s, famous for groove hounds for that added level of soul that often wasn't showing up in American releases at the time! The album was recorded in both Rio and LA – with work by a mixture of Brazilian and American fusion players, including Chico Batera, Oscar Castro Neves, Alex Acuna, Don Grusin, Dave Grusin, Steve Forman, and Marcus Miller. Includes the smooth funk classic "A Little Bit Of This & A Little Bit Of That", plus the cuts "Simplicidad", "Rainbow", "Rio Funk", "San Juan Sunset", and "Ipanema Sol". ~ Dusty Groove