What: Lee Ritenour

When: 7 p.m. Friday, 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday; workshop at 11:15 a.m. Saturday

Where: Jazz at the Oxford, The Oxford Hotel, 10 NW Minnesota Ave., Bend

Cost: Sold out; free for workshop

Contact: jazzattheoxford.com or 541-382-8436

After more than 50 years of playing guitar, Lee Ritenour isn’t finished learning. As he put it during a recent interview with GO! Magazine ahead of his Jazz at the Oxford shows Friday and Saturday: “I’ve been a student my whole life.”

“When I was in my teens, it was the late ’60s, and in my 20s, early ’70s, and I just was introduced to an incredible variety of music,” he said from his home studio in the Los Angeles area. “I was listening to jazz in the house. At the same time, rock was coming up; Motown was at the height, so you kept hearing these funky rhythm riffs on the radio. Brazilian music hit a big wave with (Antônio Carlos) Jobim and Stan Getz in the late ’60s there, and I got introduced to Brazilian music, and then studied classical guitar as well, especially at the University of Southern California, which is also where I attended. And so I learned to love a lot of music, and that carried over to my studio career.”

The jazz/fusion bandleader and session master, known for his work on recordings by The Mamas and the Papas, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Pink Floyd and countless others, is passing that love on to a new generation of players.

This year, he held the sixth edition of his biennial Six String Theory Music Competition, launched before the release of his 2010 album “Six String Theory.” Winners from 55 countries in six guitar categories, plus categories for bass, drums and piano, receive Berklee College of Music scholarships and recording and performing opportunities with Ritenour. He recently released a 12-video lesson series through Yamaha’s Musician’s Creativity Lab (musicians.online/artist/5.)

“It’s really a lot of mentoring, a lot of educational opportunities, and I try to get as many professional opportunities to give a shot in the arm to some of these young and up-and-coming players,” Ritenour said of Six String Theory. “… It’s really fun, and it keeps me fresh and plugged into the youth. I see them come from all over the world, and the world is a very small place musically now because of the internet. … It’s very different than when I was growing up.”

Ritenour will also participate in the first of three Jazz at the Oxford music education workshops at the Oxford Hotel on Saturday. The free workshops, hosted each year by local jazz musician and educator Georges Bouhey, continue with up-and-coming vocalist Kat Edmonson on Jan. 12 (in conjunction with her performances Jan. 11 and 12) and smooth-jazz saxophonist Paul Taylor on Feb. 9 (performing Feb. 8 and 9). A guitar summit featuring Portland’s Dan Balmer, Dan Faehnle and John Stowell on Nov. 16 and 17 and pianist/vocalist Frank McComb on March 15 and 16 round out the series.

The workshops provide a chance for music students, young or old, to rub shoulders with top-notch musicians, said Portland saxophonist and series curator Patrick Lamb. A similar face-to-face experience with musicians when he was in school influenced Lamb to pick up the saxophone.

“We had musicians come out to the school and perform for us — actually, Dan Balmer was one of those,” Lamb said. “In the ’80s, when I was in high school, Dan brought out his group, and I remember that stayed with me for months afterwards. You can just never underestimate the power — the easiest way to get kids to practice (an instrument) is to inspire them. If you can get them inspired, they will go out of their way — I remember I would ask to be dropped off early before school so I could practice because I was so excited about it.”

Ritenour serves as a mentor in a performance capacity as well: His four-piece band features players in their mid-20s and early-30s, including his son, drummer Wesley Ritenour. The younger Ritenour performs with his own groups in the Los Angeles area. On his birthday last July, father and son shared the stage at The Baked Potato jazz club — the same room where Ritenour used to play a weekly residency in the ’70s with longtime collaborator Dave Grusin.

“That was hilarious; I hadn’t played there in like 30 or 40 years,” Ritenour said. “Wes has been playing there kind of regularly with his band, and I go hear him often. I’ll see my old poster on the wall behind his head where he’s sitting there playing the drums. It’s hilarious. Forty years earlier, I was his age playing the same place. That’s a trip, you know. And to sit in with him at The Baked Potato, it was so foreign to do that, but so familiar when I did it.”

Jazz at the Oxford will be Ritenour’s first shows in Bend, and the guitarist will offer a cross-section of the many different styles his solo career has touched on over the years.

“I need players that are well-versed in jazz, but also pop, funk, Brazilian music,” he said. “I do cover the gamut musically and always have, and so I always have been attracted to like players.”

With his lesson series released, Ritenour is in the planning stages for his next album, the follow-up to 2015’s “A Twist of Rit.” While that album featured reinventions of older songs such as “Wild Rice” and “Ooh Yeah,” the next set will find Ritenour in uncharted territory: solo guitar playing.

“I’ve done almost 45 albums (and) never ever done a solo guitar record,” Ritenour said. “I thought it was really overdue, so I’ve been slowly preparing that the last couple (of) years — a lot of new compositions and there’ll be some standards.”

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