Contemporary Jazz

String Summit


What happens when 20 guitarists walk into a recording studio might sound like the setup to a musician joke, but the crew of high-caliber axemen on hand for Lee Ritenour's 6 String Theory aren't fooling around.

The album assembles prominent guitarists representing a range of genres. Throughout 15 tracks, Ritenour swaps riffs with the likes of John Scofield, Taj Mahal, Neal Schon, Slash, B.B. King, Mike Stern and a dozen others. The result is a mix of songs and styles with almost unlimited possibilities.

From the opening riff of the slinky "Lay It Down," Ritenour and Scofield set a tone that's playful but smart at the same time. Organist Joey DeFrancesco steps in on the lively "L.P. (For Les Paul)" to create a shimmering platform for Ritenour and Pat Martino to trade licks.

Other high points include Joe Bonomassa and Robert Cray delivering a churning rendition of the Tracy Chapman hit, "Give Me One Reason," and the tag team of B.B. King, Vince Gill, Keb' Mo' and Jonny Lang mixing it up with Rit on King's "Why I Sing The Blues." The threesome of Stern, Ritenour and Tomoyasu Hotei trade licks that conjure up the heyday of Jeff Beck with a gritty reading of "Freeway Jam."

The album closes on a classical note, courtesy of 16-year-old Canadian guitarist Shon Boublil playing Luigi Legnani's Caprices, Op., 20, No. 2 and 7. Boublil is the winner of the 6 String Theory International guitar competition, last year's global talent search spearheaded by Ritenour in partnership with Yamaha, Concord Music Group, Berklee College of Music, Monster Cable and D'Addario.

Whatever happens when these 20 guitarists walk into a recording studio is no joke. Everyone on hand is ready and able to prove the theory that anything's possible when exceptional talent comes together.

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