Lee Ritenour, (born Lee Mack Ritenour, 11 January 1952, Los Angeles, CA, USA) has maintained a delicate balance between the individual creative vision and the group dynamic, since the beginning of his career. He did his first session work in the late ‘60s with the Mamas and the Papas, who dubbed him Captain Fingers for demonstrating incredible dexterity while still in his teens.
Since his early recordings in the 1970s, he has earned a GRAMMY Award and 19 GRAMMY nominations, numerous #1 spots on guitar polls, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian SJ Awards, and a prestigious “Alumnus of the Year” Award from the University of Southern California. He has recorded more than 40 albums that have yielded 35 chart songs. As a young guitarist, he put his combination of diverse musical styles and brilliant technical chops to work on more than 3,000 sessions with a broad spectrum of artists, and was a founding member of Fourplay, which is considered the most successful group in contemporary jazz.
Lee celebrated five decades as a guitarist in 2010 with the release of 6 String Theory, which features Steve Lukather, Neal Schon, John Scofield, Slash, Mike Stern, George Benson and B.B. King. The album also introduced Andy McKee, Joe Robinson and Guthrie Govan. The record was in conjunction with his first multinational 6 String Theory Competition, sponsored by Yamaha, Berklee College of Music, Montreux Jazz Festival, Blue Note Tokyo, Crown of the Continents Guitar Workshop and Festival, Monster, Premier Guitar, Jazz Monthly, Music Connection, Concord Records and D’Addario.
The Six String Theory competition continues to grow, and has now expanded to include a Rhythm Section competition for Piano, Bass and Drums. In 2012, the Grand Prize winners were honored to appear with Lee on Rhythm Sessions, which also features luminaries such as Chick Corea, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Dave Grusin, Marcus Miller and many others. The 2014 winners performed at the illustrious Montreux Jazz Festival and the guitar grand prize winner, Tony Pusztai, recorded a track on Ritenour’s 2015 A Twist of Rit album starring greats such as: Academy® & Grammy® winning Dave Grusin, Dave Weckl, John Beasley, and Ernie Watts. Prize highlights for the 2016 competition included: Berklee College of Music Scholarships; performance at the legendary Blue Note Tokyo with Lee Ritenour and up-and-coming All-Star musicians from Japan; recording on Lee Ritenour’s forthcoming album at the stunning Woodshed Recording Studio in Malibu and Scholarships and Performances at Crown Guitar Festival in scenic Montana. Other prizes include travel and hotel for performance and recording opportunities, Yamaha Instruments & Endorsements, Professional Mentoring with Lee Ritenour, Monster and D’Addario prizes. The competition is held bi-annually and has just completed the 6th competition with applicants from 55 countries.
“When I first started this competition it was my hope it would grow to become a valuable entity that would have the support of so many established musicians in mentoring aspiring ones. In four short years we have reached incredible goals and I couldn’t be more thrilled and grateful to have so many artists be part of this extraordinary musical process and journey.” - Lee Ritenour
On April 22, 2016, Concord Records released The Vinyl LP Collection: a limited-edition, individually numbered box set celebrating a key period in the prolific solo career of renowned guitarist Lee Ritenour. The Collection contains five classic LPs by Ritenour: Earth Run (1986), Portrait (1987), Festival (1988), Color Rit (1989) and, on vinyl for the first time, the GRAMMY® Award-nominated Wes Bound (1993). These albums have each been remastered, pressed on audiophile-quality, 180-gram vinyl and restored with original artwork and liner notes. An accompanying 46-page booklet contains new liner notes by Ritenour plus never-before-seen photos and ephemera from an extensive scrapbook collection lovingly kept by the guitarist’s late father.