Many of our readers will know by now that "De Boerderij" is THE place to go in the Netherlands if you want to go to a good prog concert.
In this venue acts like Asia, IQ, Steve Hackett, Procol Harum, Pendragon and Alquin performed.
Generally the quality of both sound and lighting is superb. Now the last years also big names from other genres chose to play "De Boerderij".
Walter Trout and Julian Sas were there but also John Scofield and Larry Carlton.
So next to those prog/symphonic and other acts "De Boerderij" also featured jazz/fusion legend and Grammy award winner Lee Ritenour.
This guitar virtuoso is said to have redefined the genre of smooth jazz but definitely knows how to play rock, blues and fusion as well.
The Los Angeles based musician touched Dutch soil earlier last year when he performed on the world famous North Sea Jazz Festival.
Although I'm a genuine prog lover I used to buy albums by Ritenour (and Grusin) in the seventies and eighties,
so I was eager to go to Zoetermeer and find out if the man still was able to deliver great licks and melodies.
A club-concert in Zoetermeer seemed a great opportunity to me, whilst I wouldn't have thought of going to the North Sea Jazz Festival in a million years.
"Captain Fingers" brought a fantastic band with him on stage: the very experienced Will Kennedy (ex-Yellow Jackets) on the drums,
heavyweight Melvin Davis on the bass (both the 5 and 7 string-basses!), part of the gig sitting on a chair and the much younger but talented keyboardist Jesse Milliner,
for whom this gig was only his third concert with Lee.
"RIT" played his Gibson Les Paul, his Gibson ES-model and a peculiar "open" Yamaha guitar with a delightful muffled sound.
The setlist (as it was written down that night) consisted of songs, including some delightful improvisations, from the different decades in his career.
There was some rock, mainly jazz/fusion, just a tiny bit of blues and even reggae in Get Up, Stand Up sung by the lovely Annekei, whose last album Lee produced. Her vocal abilities didn't impress everyone in the audience but as far as I'm concerned I thought she was quite okay. Sometimes her voice reminds me a bit of Sadé's but her's is a little brighter and she is undisputedly a gifted jazz-singer with several albums to her credit already. There was much fun both on and off the stage and Ritenour proved that he still belongs to the generation of truly great artists, performing each and every night with dazzling technique, concentration and respect for the fans. The interactions with Davis, who found himself singing lead at one time, were quite funny and the joy and laughter on stage seemed very genuine to me. Of course there were a few songs from his last studio album Smoke 'n' Mirrors: the title track and Storms, a track with a very odd meter. If one tries to count, it doesn't seem to work but if you just listen to the groove it just won't stop!
Masterfully guitar playing combined with soft jazz melodies but certainly also some more powerful bits, lovely duets between Milliner and Ritenour, while the rhythm section interacted with Lee just as often.
His best period through the eyes of a prog-lover would have been the mid eighties, with albums like Banded Together (almost a similar sound to Toto!) and Earth Run, on which Lee played a synthaxe.
Unfortunately RIT didn't play music from those albums but nevertheless it was a privilege to see this legendary guitarist playing live up close.
Fortunately the venue was filled nicely (almost sold out) and the show brought ecstasy to all fans, swinging, clapping and enjoying the spirit coming from musicians and music alike.
Not just a concert, but a real treat this was: Lee please come back next year!
4 1/2 Storms
Is It You
Smoke 'n' Mirrors
Get Up, Stand Up