Guitarist of Broad Range, with Lots of Friends


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Deference and dexterity are steadfastly correlated for the guitarist Lee Ritenour. Over the course of a 35-year solo career, he has personified a carefree sort of prowess, making no secret of his enthusiasms: slinky funk, Brazilian pop, the softer side of hard bop. Because of his breezy sincerity, he's the rare guitar-geek hero seemingly free of an outsize ego, though that impression may also stem from his warmly ingratiating music, which has often been filed under the category of smooth jazz.

This week Mr. Ritenour is appearing at the Blue Note with the pianist-composer Dave Grusin, his longtime collaborator and former label chief (as the “G" in GRP Records). Their engagement, which precedes tour dates in Boston, Chicago and Seattle, has been organized as a showcase for Mr. Ritenour. And what that means—or did, at least, during the late set on Wednesday night—is a survey of the styles and sources that make up his musical portfolio. Well, that and a plug for his new album, “6 String Theory" (Concord).

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