songwriter from Los Angeles,
California, who was playing
professionally by the time he was sixteen years of age, laying down tracks
for the Mamas & the Papas.
At eighteen, he was accompanying the likes of Tony Bennett and Lena
In the 1970s,
he had a standing gig on Tuesday nights at the Baked Potato with Dave Grusin, Harvey Mason, Patrice Rushen,
and Ernie Watts. They were a
fixture on the live music scene for half a decade.
He toured with
Sergio Mendes’s Brazil
’77 in ’73, but became so valuable as
a session musician, that it often precluded him from taking long jaunts on
In 1976, he
released his solo debut album, First
Course. It was just a taste
of the banquet he would serve up during the next forty-plus years. He followed it up with Gentle Thoughts, and an album
bearing his self-explanatory nickname, Captain
Fingers, in 1977. In 1978,
he issued The Captain’s Journey. Feel
the Night and Rio
hit the shelves in 1979.
time, he started working on Pink Floyd’s album/film, The Wall. He performed on a handful of tracks,
including “Comfortably Numb”, “Run Like Hell”, and “What
Do You Want”.
He opened the
1980s with a sort-of self-titled LP, Rit. It bore fruit with “Is It You”,
sung by Eric Tagg, which peaked at #15 on the
Billboard Hot 100 and #27 on the soul chart. “Is it You” and “Mr.
Briefcase” were both aired on MTV during its first broadcast day.
succeeded by Rit/2, On the Line, and Banded Together, as he continued to
record at a pace of one album per year.
November 1985, he and Cheech & Chong and Don
Henley performed a benefit concert at the Presbyterian Conference
Center in Pacific
He and Dave Grusin collaborated on Harlequin and won a Grammy award in the category of Best
Arrangement on an Instrumental for “Early A.M. Attitude” on 25th
year was out, he released Earth Run,
and played guitar and produced tracks for the album Hot on the Trail by Deniece Williams.
In 1987, he
unveiled Portrait, a populous recording
that featured artists such as Alex Acuna, Paulinho Da Costa, Kenny G,
Jerry Hey, Paul Jackson, Jr., Harvey Mason, Greg Phillinganes,
and Eric Tagg.
followed by Festival and GRP Super Live, another all-star
affair that included Chick Corea, Dave Grusin, Diane Schuur and Tom
Scott, in 1988.
May 1989, he shared the stage with Richard Elliot, Pete Escovedo,
Hiroshima, Hugh Masekela,
Kim Pensyl, the Rippingtons
and Shadowfax at the Pacific Jazz Festival in Costa Mesa.
He wed Brazilian
arts envoy Carmen Santos in the Pepperdine
University chapel on
21st October 1990.
In 1991, he
and keyboardist Bob James co-founded Fourplay, and
their first album reigned supreme on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart
for a record thirty-three weeks.
He honoured one of his heroes and influences, Wes
Montgomery, with his 1992 release, Wes
Bound. It topped the
Billboard Jazz chart in 1993.
would follow: In 1997, he
released A Twist of Jobim, featuring the talents of Oleta
Adams, El DeBarge, Dave Grusin,
Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau,
and the Yellowjackets.
He and Dave Grusin teamed up again in 2000 on Two Worlds, which spent one week shy of a year on the Billboard
succeeded by A Twist of Marley, Rit’s House, A Twist of Motown, Overtime,
World of Brazil, and the DVD, Live in Montreal with Special Guests. Overtime,
recorded before a live studio audience, was later released on DVD, as well.
He and his son
Wesley, a drummer, worked together on Smoke
‘n’ Mirrors in 2006.
The end of the year found him and David Grusin
performing live at Blue Note Tokyo.
August 2007, he and Herbie Hancock, Lionel Loueke and John Scofield made
a surprise appearance at the Hollywood Bowl as part of its summer jazz
He was given
the Lifetime Achievement Award by Guitar
Player Magazine in 2010.
corresponded with the release of 6
String Theory, featuring guitar illuminati George Benson, Vince Gill,
B.B. King, and Steve Lukather. It won Album of the Year from JAZZIZ
Music Publishers and Guitar Album of the Year from Guitar International Magazine. Lee also won an Echo Award, the
equivalent of a Grammy in Germany,
in the category of Best International Instrumentalist.
In 2011, he
continued to make live appearances, with John Beasley, Melvin Davis, Simon
Phillips and Mike Stern at Blue Note Tokyo, and with Dave Grusin at Auditorium Stravinski.
He shared the
stage with Spyro Gyra
at the Hyatt Regency in Newport
Beach on 22nd June 2012.
is massive—to date, he has performed more than 3,000 sessions—and
here is but a sampling: Adam Again by Michael Omartian; Agora
by Paulinho Da Costa; Baby, It’s Me by Diana Ross; Basic by Glen Campbell; The Best is Yet to Come by Grover
Washington, Jr.; Cat and the Hat
by Ben Sidran; Endless Flight by Leo Sayer; Fate for Breakfast by Art Garfunkel;
Finger Painting by Earl Klugh; Heartlight by Neil Diamond; In the Pocket by Neil Sedaka; L.A. is My Lady by Frank Sinatra; Reach by Patti Austin; Sometimes Late at Night by Carole
Bayer Sager; Street Dreams by
Chet Atkins; Symphony Sessions by
David Foster; That’s What
Friends Are For by Johnny Mathis & Deniece
Williams; and, Torch by Carly Simon.
He can also be
heard on the soundtracks of Demon
Seed, The Fabulous Baker Boys,
Moment by Moment, An Officer and a Gentleman, Pink Floyd The Wall, Saturday Night Fever, Taxi Driver, Tequila Sunrise, Working
Girl, and The Yakuza.
The Yahama 6 String Theory Guitar Competition also bears
Johnny Mathis & Deniece
Emotion (Barry Gibb/Robin Gibb)
S CBS 6164B (UK