Lee Ritenour
Ritenour at the Stockholm Jazz Festival, 2009
Ritenour at the Stockholm Jazz Festival, 2009
Background information
Birth nameLee Mack Ritenour
Born (1952-01-11) January 11, 1952 (age 69)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz-funk, jazz fusion, smooth jazz, rock
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, producer
Years active1968–present
LabelsEpic, Elektra, GRP, PolyGram, Decca, Peak, Concord, Discovery
Associated actsDave Grusin, Fourplay

Lee Mack Ritenour (born January 11, 1952) is an American jazz guitarist who has been active since the late 1960s.[1][2][3]


Ritenour was born on January 11, 1952 in Los Angeles, California, United States. At the age of eight he started playing guitar and four years later decided on a career in music. When he was 16 he played on his first recording session with the Mamas & the Papas. He developed a love for jazz and was influenced by guitarist Wes Montgomery.[4] At the age of 17 he worked with Lena Horne and Tony Bennett. He studied classical guitar at the University of Southern California.[2]


The Lee Ritenour Gibson L5 Signature archtop guitar

Ritenour's solo career began with the album First Course (1976), a good example of the jazz-funk sound of the 1970s, followed by Captain Fingers, The Captain's Journey (1978), and Feel the Night (1979).

In 1979, he "was brought in to beef up" one of Pink Floyd's The Wall's heaviest rock numbers, "Run Like Hell".[5] He played "uncredited rhythm guitar" on "One of My Turns".[6][7] As the 1980s began, Ritenour began to add stronger elements of pop to his music, beginning with Rit (1981). Rit became his only release to chart in Australia, peaking at number 98.[8] "Is It You" with vocals by Eric Tagg reached No. 15 on the Billboard pop chart and No. 27 on the Soul chart.[9] The track peaked at number fifteen on Hot Adult Contemporary chart.[10] He continued with the pop-oriented music for Rit/2 (1982) and Banded Together (1984), while releasing a Direct-Disk instrumental album in 1983 called On the Line. He also provided rhythm guitar on Tom Browne's album Funkin' for Jamaica. He recorded Harlequin (1985) with Dave Grusin and vocals by Ivan Lins.[4] His next album, Earth Run, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance. The album's title track was also Grammy nominated in the category of Best Instrumental Composition.[3][11] Portrait (GRP, 1987) included guest performances by The Yellowjackets, Djavan, and Kenny G.[12]

In 1988, his Brazilian influence came to the forefront on Festival, an album featuring his work on nylon-string guitar.[4] He changed direction with his straight-ahead jazz album Stolen Moments which he recorded with saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Harvey Mason. During the same year, he composed the theme song for the Canadian TV series Ramona.


In 1991 Ritenour and keyboardist Bob James formed the group Fourplay.[4] He left the group in 1997 and was replaced by Larry Carlton. He released the career retrospective Overtime in 2005. Smoke n' Mirrors came out the next year with the debut of his thirteen-year-old son, Wesley, on drums.

Celebrating his fifty years as a guitarist in 2010, Ritenour released 6 String Theory, a title that refers to six musical areas covered by the use of guitar.[13]

Ritenour has been a judge for the Independent Music Awards.[14][15][16][17]


Grammy Awards

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Ritenour has received one award out of sixteen nominations.[3]

YearCategoryNominated workResult
1978Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition"The Captain's Journey"Nominated
1981Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental PerformanceRITNominated
1985Grammy Award for Best Arrangement on an Instrumental"Early A.M. Attitude"Won
Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance (Orchestra, Group or Soloist)HarlequinNominated
Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s)"Harlequin"Nominated
1986Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or InstrumentalEarth RunNominated
Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition"Earth Run"Nominated
1990Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion PerformanceStolen MomentsNominated
1993Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance (Instrumental)Between the SheetsNominated
Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo"4 on 6"Nominated
Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or GroupWes BoundNominated
1994Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement with Accompanying Vocals"Ability to Swing"Nominated
1995Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz PerformanceElixirNominated
Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz PerformanceLarry and LeeNominated
1997Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz PerformanceAlive in L.A.Nominated
1997Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover AlbumTwo WorldsNominated
  • Album of the Year, Jazziz magazine (2010)
  • Best International Instrumentalist, Echo Jazz Award (2011)



1976First CourseEpic
1977Gentle ThoughtsJVC
1977Captain FingersEpic
1977Sugar Loaf ExpressJVC
1978The Captain's JourneyElektra
1979Feel the NightDiscovery
1982Rit 2Discovery
1983On the LineGRP
1984Banded TogetherDiscovery
1985Harlequin, with Dave GrusinGRP
1986Earth RunGRP
1989Color RitGRP
1990Stolen MomentsGRP
1993Wes BoundGRP
1995Larry & Lee, with Larry CarltonGRP
1997Alive in L.A.GRP
1998This Is LoveI.E. Music
2000Two WorldsDecca
2002Rit's HouseGRP
2003World Of BrazilGRP
2006Smoke 'n' MirrorsPeak
2008Amparo, with Dave GrusinDecca
20106 String TheoryConcord
2012Rhythm SessionsConcord
2015A Twist of RitConcord
2020DreamcatcherMascot Label Group

Charted singles

DateTitlePositionChart (US)
1981"Countdown Captain Fingers"43Dance[18]
"Is It You"15Hot 100[18]
1982"Cross My Heart"69
1993"Waiting in Vain" (ft. Maxi Priest)54R&B[18]
2007"Smoke 'n' Mirrors"27Smooth Jazz[18]
"Forget Me Nots"14
2010"Shape of My Heart" (Lee Ritenour, Steve Lukather & Andy McKee)19
"Put the Top Down" (Dave Koz ft. Lee Ritenour)1
2012"Roadtrip" (Michael Lington ft. Lee Ritenour)3
2013"The Village"3
"L.A. by Bike"15
2015"A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That"5

With Fourplay

With L.A. Workshop

Other credits

As sideman


  1. ^ "Biography". Lee Ritenour. January 24, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Lee Ritenour". Allmusic.com.
  3. ^ a b c "Lee Ritenour". Grammy.com.
  4. ^ a b c d Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1018. ISBN 978-1-85227-745-1.
  5. ^ Blake, Mark (2008). Comfortably Numb. Da Capo Press. pp. 270–. ISBN 978-1-56858-383-9. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  6. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. Omnibus Press. pp. 80–. ISBN 978-0-7119-4301-8. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  7. ^ "Inside the Mind of Pink Floyd: David Gilmour". Guitar. September 1995. Archived from the original on December 18, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  8. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 253. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 494.
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 205.
  11. ^ "Earth Run". AllMusic. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  12. ^ "Lee Ritenour: Portrait". allmusic.com.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 2, 2010. Retrieved July 8, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Judges". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "11th Annual IMA Judges". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  17. ^ "She & Him, The Black Keys, Mark Hoppus, Aimee Mann and Bettye LaVette Join Judging Panel for the 9th Annual Independent Music Awards". Top40-charts.com. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  18. ^ a b c d "Lee Ritenour Chart History". Billboard.

External links