The world may be raging around us, but the sound of Lee Ritenour’s guitar is unflappably cool.
Ritenour, who comes to the Folly Theater on Saturday, Oct. 28, seems to have incredible calm under pressure, the kind of poise that might come from having played pretty much everything with everybody, including literally thousands of recording sessions. His credits list Bob James’ Fourplay, tenor sax giant Sonny Rollins, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, but also the Mamas and the Papas, Pink Floyd and opera singer Renee Fleming.
As an example of his broad reach, a few years back, when he wanted to put together an album of guitar dialogues, his musical partners in it included George Benson, B.B. King and Slash.
Clearly, this guy knows his way around myriad styles. But his heart seems to lie on the accessible side of jazz. He was making best-selling “smooth jazz” records before the term was coined. That breezy, lightly funky sound is still there in abundance, and in recent years Ritenour has widened its scope with more emphasis on Brazilian sounds and rhythms.
Since he’s the kind of virtuoso who knows to not use too many notes, to keep the power in check, Ritenour makes it all fit together quite naturally. The amount of work that goes into getting that sound and style together and keeping them together must be enormous. But unflappable players, like Ritenour, make it look easy.
Lee Ritenour performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Folly, 300 W. 12th St. Tickets are $20-$55. Call 816-474-4444 or check follytheater.org.
▪ The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has singer Eboni Fondren at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, followed by organist Matt Villinger at 10:30 p.m.; guitarist Matt Hopper’s trio at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, followed by tenor saxophonist Stephen Martin’s organ trio at 10:30 p.m.; Hopper’s Agora band at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, followed by organist Chris Hazelton’s trio at 10:30 p.m.; organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, followed by sax man Todd Wilkinson’s organ trio at 10:30 p.m.; Lovern’s trio at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, followed by Villinger’s trio at 10:30 p.m.; pianist Michael Pagán’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, followed by Lovern’s trio at 8:30 p.m. downstairs and Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m. upstairs; and singer Molly Hammer’s quartet at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, followed by OJT at 6 p.m., organist Mitch Towne’s trio downstairs at 9 p.m. and Villinger upstairs at 10:30 p.m.
▪ Tenor saxophonist Steven Lambert is featured on the free midday jazz series at Johnson County Community College, at noon Tuesday, Oct. 24, in the Recital Hall in Carlsen Center.
▪ A little further down the road: Alto saxophonist Joel Gordon brings his group and his compositions to the Westport CoffeeHouse Theater, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave., at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1. Joining him are tenor saxophonist and composer Tim AuBuchon, bassist Bill McKemy and drummer Brian Steever. Also that night, pianist Tim Whitmer’s Spirituality and All That Jazz concert series, with a long history of generosity in featuring others, features Whitmer himself and his compositions to mark his November birthday. That one’s at 7 p.m. at the Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St. Even further out: Bassist Victor Wooten brings his trio to the Madrid Theater, 3810 Main St., on Tuesday, Nov. 7. With him, reportedly, are drummer Dennis Chambers and sax man Bob Franceschini.
Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751