Since he was a teenager, guitarist Lee Ritenour has been proud to call Dave Grusin his friend. While in Seattle for a stretch of nights at Jazz Alley, Lee and Dave returned to the KNKX studios to play together and for each other.
A just-finished documentary, “Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time,” recalls the long and varied career of the pianist, composer and arranger. Along with jazz stars Quincy Jones and Marcus Miller, there’s Dave’s buddy Lee Ritenour talking about his friend.
First meeting at the home of Brazilian star Sergio Mendes, the two have often worked in the relaxed, romantic style of bossa nova. Their Grammy-winning album together, “Harlequin,” featured musicians and tunes from Brazil. They both remarked on the influence of recently passed guitarist, singer and hit-maker Joao Gilberto.
Ritenour mentioned the simple, yet remarkable, rhythmic guitar style pioneered by Gilberto. Grusin told us that he and fellow musicians felt the samba craze would save jazz from the quickly changing, rock-dominated musical landscape of the day.
Brazilian music still weighs heavily in both their hearts, as Ritenour and Grusin teamed up for the beautiful A.C. Jobim song, “Children’s Games,” for a rapt KNKX studio audience.
They also treated us to Ritenour’s “Waltz for Carmen,” written for his Brazilian wife.
Finally, both gentlemen showed off brief examples of their solo style. Grusin performed the beautiful “Bonita,”also by Jobim, and Ritenour improvised a sweet groover after telling us he’s been considering recording what would be his first solo record.
Ritenour told us he was just “noodling” around, and when the unique performance concluded, our audience was immediately sold on the solo album idea. I jokingly referred to the possible album title, “The Noodler.” Ritenour laughed and said, “yeah, and that song’s called ‘For Seattle.’”
It’s always nice to hear musicians of this caliber, but when the two are such good friends and fans of each other, it’s extra special. Enjoy these special moments with Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin, as we certainly did.