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Smoke N' Mirrors

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 22, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Smoke 'n' Mirrors, the latest release from famed guitarist Lee Ritenour (a.k.a. Captain Fingers), features a progressive, innovative mix of world music and contemporary jazz. Blending his style of jazz -using electric and acoustic guitars with elements from Africa, Brazil, South America and India, Smoke 'n' Mirrors is a true Ritenour original; fresh in concept with original compositions and songs from around the world. A very timely and unique album for today's Global Village.

Amazon.com

As comfortable as guitarist Lee Ritenour has always been in the smooth jazz format, he has strived to go beyond it with his embrace of world music and serious jazz stylists including Wes Montgomery. Smoke 'N' Mirrors is a characteristic production in gathering up a sizable cast of contemporary cronies including Patrice Rushen, Dave Grusin, Richard Bona and Abraham Laboriel, but Ritenour's involvement in South African and Brazilian music and his emphasis on acoustic guitar give it a fresh identity. The wistful "Blue Days (Dias Azuis)," written and arranged by Daniel Jobim, son of Antonio Carlos, and featuring the singer Joyce, is one of the album's highlights. The young South African vocalist Zamajobe, featured on three songs, is a real discovery. You may wish Ritenour had stayed on ethnic turf and saved the more familiar, keyboard-sweetened fare for another album. Or you may enjoy the variety of Smoke 'N' Mirrors, which ranges percussively from Sheila E.'s congas to Satnam Ramgotra's Indian tablas. --Lloyd Sachs
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 22, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Peak Records
  • ASIN: B000G8P1JQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,677 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nicholas Kalenze on August 23, 2006
Format: Audio CD
"Smoke N' Mirrors" is a very diversified record with so much heart and soul. Lee Ritenour has really defined the art of guitar playing in so many different ways. What's unique about this record is that there are a total of 12 different guitars used ranging from Electric, Baritone, Acoustic Steel and Nylon string guitars. I have heard all of Ritenour's cds in the past, and yes I am a big fan. Ritenour never fails to expand new horizons on the guitar or in the world of jazz music. This record showcases his talent as a real musician, and it's one of his most passionate records to date.

This is not your typical smooth jazz cd. Yes, there are some smooth jazz tunes such as the title track. This track is very reminisent of something heard from his earlier days with the super group Fourplay. I love how Ritenour brings in musicians such as Dave Grusin, Daniel Jobim, and even some newcomers like his son and Zamajobe. What an effort!

I think this cd could grow on anybody. It's very acoustic sounding to me, and it's truly another sensational effort by one of today's most evolved and accomplished jazz musicians. For most Ritenour fans, you will not be disappointed. Ritenour is in a very elite group of jazz musicians in my opinion, and this cd showcases some of his finest songwriting and skills to date! Please check out this cd!

Nick Kalenze
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Format: Audio CD
The latest CD by Rit, "Smoke n' Mirrors," is a musical journey from which you don't want to leave! Influenced by his recent trips to South Afica, and by his son's interest in percussion instruments, this album cooks from beginning to end. Unlike many guitarists who deconstruct songs so that the melody is lost, there are times I think Rit is a song-writer like Burt Bacharach - but with a guitar. The album has a little of everything without losing continuity. The title track sets the tone. The hand-clapping toward the end is pulsating! Then, Capetown begins with a James Taylor-like acoustic guitar intro and morphs into a South Afican vibe with a splash of funk. Rit cranks of the volume; the scorching octave volume on "Spellbinder"; the electric volume on "Motherland" (which would be awesome music set to highlights of, say, the Tour de France; and the Al Di Meola-like volume on "4 1/2 Storm" with bassist Richard Bona adding scat vocals! Want to joyfully journey back to the 80s? "Forget Me Nots" does just that!

Buy this and be happily fulfilled!
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Format: Audio CD
Clearly, Lee Ritenour is not afraid of being upstaged by his own session musicians. If you scan the staff on "Smoke N Mirrors", you'll find killers like John Patitucci on bass, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, and both Alex Acuna and Sheila E on percussion -- a genius rhythm section virtually guaranteed to seduce a listener's ear away at every turn. And so, they do.

Yet, as the rich grooves (and delightful rhythmic scene-stealings) accumulate, it becomes obvious that Ritenour knows exactly what he's doing. His position here isn't so much a bandleader, but an ultrasmooth big-wave surfer, and his rhythm section is an ocean full of tasty ones, just begging for him to glide over the top.

So there it is -- the difference between bland "Smooth Jazz", and good Jazz that happens to have smooth textures: a listener's ear is never left to fall asleep in the good stuff, but is drawn in and seduced instead.

This is seriously good stuff.
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Format: Audio CD
The impressive career of Lee Ritenour has always been permeated by that sincere love for Brazilian music. Since his extraordinary album Rio from 1979, Ritenour has never ceased to show the love and affection for this music.

But what it really amazes (even for the most exigent lsitener) is the ambitious scope given by him. A true gallery of melodies, themes that never let you down.

An ambitious musical project featured by this enrmous talent of this legendary artist make of this album a true referential one to have it.

By any reason, don't let this CD out of your collection.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am amazed that he is just dam good without being boring doing the same stuff over and over. I would recommend this CD to anyone who just loves listening to dam good musician, make even better music.
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I've been listening to Lee Ritenour since the early 80's and love most everything he has done. This CD brings back some memories of older days which frankly I prefer and the sound quality is amazing. Several of the songs are dashboard banging upbeat tunes that are very unique, uplifting and infectous. Highly recomend. My only question to Lee is when are you going to tour again??
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Well, pretty good album, but for a long time Rit fan there are a better ones! The last song on the album reminds me of an old GRP sound, but for me there is always a question of (modern) production... For instance, I am very pleased to hear Fender Rhodes keyboard on a few songs, but this modern drum production sounds so shallow and therefore the whole song sound (the songs are great) is shallow too! Anyway, a solid 4!
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Format: Audio CD
Probably one Lee's best albums. An interesting international flavour, biased towards South Africa gives an exciting change to the latin influences that runs through much of his work. If you like Smooth Jazz with good tunes then this is top notch. Excellent musicianship and v ery good sound recording. If I say as I expected don't be disappointed, its just the consistent high standards that he sets for his work. A must have.
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