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Born in Los Angeles, the prolific LEE RITENOUR has established himself as one of the world's leading jazz guitarists with a series of accessible albums over three decades. Starting at the age of 16, Ritenour played his first session with The Mamas & The Papas. Two years later he was backing Tony Bennett and Lena Horne at L.A.'s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Known as "Captain Fingers," Ritenour became a sought-after session player in the mid-'70s. Starting in 1976, at the age of 24, he began his own solo career, which now includes over 30 albums and collaborations.
Along the way, Ritenour has received 17 Grammy nominations, earned several gold albums, numerous No. 1 spots in guitar polls, and the prestigious Alumnus of the Year award from USC. In 1981, he scored the pop hit "Is It You," featuring vocalist Eric Tagg, which has also become a smooth jazz radio classic. He joined GRP Records in 1985 after recording for Elektra the previous 7 years. At that time, he recorded the magnificent Harlequin album with GRP co-owner Dave Grusin. It was nominated for four Grammys and won one that year.
In the early '90s, Ritenour teamed up with Bob James, Harvey Mason, and bass player Nathan East under the name of Fourplay. The first Fourplay album in 1991 spent an unprecedented 33 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's contemporary jazz chart.
In 1993, Ritenour topped the Billboard jazz chart with his accomplished tribute to Wes Montgomery, his album Wes Bound, and followed it in 1995 with an excellent joint album with Larry Carlton. In 1997, Ritenour was a founding partner of i.e. Music at Polygram Records. The first release on i.e. music was A Twist of Jobim, paying tribute to the great Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. In 2000, Ritenour and Grusin returned to their classical roots with Two Worlds, which remained on Billboard's classical charts for 51 weeks. 2001 saw the release of the second "Twist of" album, with a tribute to Bob Marley, placing reggae classics in a contemporary setting. In 2002, Ritenour released Rit's House, a jazzier, funk album with many new original compositions by Ritenour. The final of the "Twist of" trilogy was the 2003 release A Twist of Motown. In 2004, Ritenour recorded one of his most ambitious projects, a hi-definition, 5.1 sound DVD called OverTime. The DVD is 2 1/2 hours long with 19 songs covering his music from the '70s to the present.
His latest CD, Smoke 'N' Mirrors, takes listeners on a magical, multi-faceted global journey unlike any other in the legendary guitarist's three-decade, nearly 40-album career. Inspired by his very first trip to South Africa in 2005, where he performed five hugely successful concerts at festivals in Johannesburg and Capetown, with Smoke 'N' Mirrors Ritenour takes an expansive, polyrhythmic approach, working with musicians from South Africa, Cameroon-West Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and India.
Born in Pativilca, Peru, 100 miles north of Lima, ALEX ACUÑA was born into a musical family that inspired him and helped shape him as a musician. His father and five brothers were all musicians. Alex taught himself how to play the drums from the age of four. By the time Alex turned ten, he was already playing in local bands. As a teenager, he moved to Lima and became one of Peru's most accomplished session drummers, performing on many recording projects for artists, as well as film and television productions. At the age of 18, Alex was chosen by the great Latin bandleader, Perez Prado, to join his big band. It was with the Prado band that Alex first traveled to the United States.
He moved to Las Vegas in 1974, where he played with such greats as Elvis Presley and Diana Ross. Between 1975 and 1977, he made part of jazz history when he became both drummer and percussionist for one of the most innovative and pioneering jazz groups of our time, Weather Report. He recorded two albums with the group: Black Market and the highly successful Heavy Weather, the first jazz-fusion album to sell a million copies.
Alex next moved to Los Angeles, where he quickly earned the position of a valued session drummer and percussionist for recordings, television, and motion pictures. He became the recipient of many awards and honors, including the Emeritus MVP award from NARAS (National Academy of Recording for the Arts and Sciences) and winner of the "Best Latin/Brazilian Percussionist" of Modern Drummer's Readers Poll for five consecutive years. In 2000, Alex Acuña y Su Acuarelas De Tambores received a Grammy nomination for "Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album" for Rhythms for a New Millennium. Recently, Alex received two Latin Grammy nominations.
It is easy to see why Alex Acuña is one of the most sought after musicians of our time. Alex recognizes his music as a gift from the Lord and gives all the glory to God!
If RICHARD BONA could create the soundtrack to his dreams, it would sound a lot like his latest self-produced, Grammy-nominated album, Tiki. Bona's first three albums - Scenes from My Life, Reverence, and Munia - allowed listeners to discover a wonderful storyteller, whose spellbinding vocals smoothly wrapped around his unique musical arrangements. Unequivocally in line with the aesthetics and spirituality of its three predecessors, Tiki explores every dimension of Bona's exceptional talents, while also displaying a new maturity.
From the moment of Bona's birth, music has been the center of his world. The grandson of a famous percussionist and singer, Bona was born in 1967 in Minta, a village in central Cameroon. Richard has a highly unusual gift - he only has to look intently at someone playing, and he can learn the instrument. Not blessed with traditional instruments, Bona found creative ways of making instruments for himself, including reed flutes, a large balafon, wooden percussion instruments, and a 12-string guitar. Rehearsing for eight to 12 hours per day, Bona honed his skills. He performed as a singer and a multi-instrumentalist in a range of religious ceremonies, and soon he became known beyond his village for his musical virtuosity.
In 1989, when Bona was 22, he left Africa for Paris, where he quickly built a solid reputation. He took part in studio sessions with leading musicians such as Manu Dibango, Salif Keita, and Joe Zawinul. In 1995, Bona hooked up with Zawinul again and was invited to accompany him on a world tour.
Bona's talents continue to gain notice in the world music community as a solo artist and a session player. The list of musicians who have played with Bona looks like the roster from the musicians' hall of fame. In addition to those already mentioned, Bona has performed with Michael Brecker, Chaka Khan, Tito Puente, Bob James, Mike Stern, Larry Coryell, Steve Gadd, Joni Mitchell, Harry Connick Jr., Chucho Valdes Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham, Queen Latifah, Jacky Terrasson, Bobby McFerrin, David Sanborn, Joe Sample, Chick Corea, and George Benson.
BRIAN BROMBERG has become one of the most well-respected virtuoso bass players in jazz, thanks to his A-list studio and touring status as sideman, producer, and leader. This year marks the American release of Downright Upright, a compelling addition to his acclaimed and popular catalog that he expects will please both the casual smooth jazz fans and the jazz purists.
Already released in Japan, Downright Upright is a return to the acoustic upright bass Bromberg recently spent time with on 2006's Wood II. Far less intimate than Wood II, Downright Upright abandons the traditional trio format and takes on new collaborative touches, perhaps most noticeably from guitarists Gannin Arnold and Lee Ritenour. Having contributed to Rit's recent album Smoke 'N' Mirrors, Brian just returned from live dates with the legendary guitarist.
Born in Tucson and now based in Los Angeles, Bromberg tested out of high school early to dedicate his life to music. The decision would pay off shortly thereafter when he met Marc Johnson, bass player to famed pianist Bill Evans. Sensing a rare opportunity, Johnson kept Bromberg in mind upon learning that sax great Stan Getz needed a bass player to join his quintet. After a successful audition, the freshly 19-year-old Bromberg joined Getz in December of 1979.
It wasn't until 1986's A New Day that he set out to begin a solo recording career. Another dozen releases would follow for Bromberg over the next 20 years - among them a rock experiment with electric piccolo bass (2005's Metal), two acoustic tributes to his Matteo Guersam upright (2002's Wood and the aforementioned, Wood II), and the Jaco Pastorius tribute Jaco.
As an in-demand producer, bassist, and studio designer Brian's myriad talents have placed him in the forefront of the West Coast musical community. Co-partner in the Artistry Music Group, whose label has seen multiple Grammy nominations in their short existence, as well as owner of his own popular recording studio in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, Bromberg brings his knowledge of an artist's perspective to a forward-thinking, musically exciting new highpoint in a career filled with tremendous accomplishments.
Multi-Grammy nominated artist, PATRICE RUSHEN, is fashioning her career after the legacy of her long-time friend and mentor, Quincy Jones. Admired by many for her groundbreaking achievements, Rushen has amassed an impressive list of "firsts." She was the first woman to serve as Musical Director for the Grammys; the first woman in 43 years to serve as Head Composer/Musical Director for television's highest honor, the Emmy Awards; and the first woman Musical Director of the NAACP Image Awards, an honor she held for 12 consecutive years. Rushen has also been the only woman Musical Director/Composer for the People's Choice Awards and HBO's Comic Relief.
A classically trained pianist, Rushen has spent a lifetime honing the skills that make her one of the music industry's most versatile and sought-after artists. In 1998, she was again honored by the music industry when her adult contemporary CD, Signature, received a Grammy nomination. The CD also received an NAACP Image Award nomination and also landed in the top ten of the adult contemporary jazz charts. She has 14 solo albums to her credit and a greatest hits anthology released on Rhino Records in 1997. She has recorded two albums with The Meeting, the world-renowned jazz super-group which includes Rushen, Ndugu Chancler, and Ernie Watts.
In addition to her success as a recording artist and musical director, Rushen is also an accomplished composer, providing musical scores for Emmy-nominated television movies and series. Rushen's feature film composing credits include Men In Black, Waiting to Exhale, Sandra Bernhard's Without You I'm Nothing, and Robert Townsend's breakthrough film, Hollywood Shuffle. She served as Composer in Residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the 2000/01 concert season.
Rushen spends whatever free time she has working closely with the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, NARAS' "Grammy In The Schools" program, and other organizations dedicated to establishing music education and mentorship programs for inner-city youth.