Between the popular Captain Fingers and his follow-up Rio, crossover guitarist Lee Ritenour recorded a trio of sets for the Japanese JVC label; each of the three have since been reissued on CD. This date matches Ritenour with his pickup group of the time, which was called "the Gentle Thoughts." The lineup is impressive (including Ernie Watts on tenor, soprano and flute, both Patrice Rushen and Dave Grusin on keyboards, electric bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Harvey Mason and percussionist Steve Forman), but the music is typically lightweight. Rit's fans will be interested to hear a different version of "Captain Fingers" and the guitarist's interpretation of "Feel Like Makin' Love" and Herbie Hancock's "Gentle Thoughts," but most of the playing is best served by being used as moderately funky background music.
Guitarist Lee Ritenour decided to celebrate his 50th year as a guitar player by inviting a bevy of name guitarists into the studio to jam out some tunes, all in the name of love for their chosen instrument. Ritenour's subsequent album, 2010's 6 String Theory, is just that, a varied celebration on the many styles and players who have utilized the guitar. The result is an expansive, ambitious, but never belabored album that touches on jazz, blues, funk, and rock and expands beyond the usual Ritenour approach while remaining true to his unique six-string sound. To these ends, Ritenour duets with such artists as contemporary bluesman Keb' Mo', fusion/post-bop legend Pat Martino, and blues icon B.B. King, as well as George Benson, Slash, Mike Stern, and others. To say this is an all-star affair is an understatement and fortunately, while the album never overplays to expectations, it nonetheless delivers on Ritenour's promise of a guitar celebration.