The Rippingtons' new Best Of contains two new tracks to entice completists, and what's more, they're killers. Garden of Babylon is high-gloss funk with a big chunky feel contributed by the backing horns of Jerry Hey and Gary Grant, and Eric Marienthal's demonstrative tenor. "Sapphire Island" is a rippling workout for David Kochanski's piano, with Russ Freeman programming rhythm and chiming in with keyboards, bass, and...classical guitar! Both these tracks are Rippington highlights, deserving their places here with cuts from Brave New World, Sahara, Weekend in Monaco, Curves Ahead, Welcome to the St. James Club, Kilimanjaro and Tourist in Paradise.
It's a smoothfest! The celebrated Mr. Kenny G himself drops by for "She Likes to Watch," but he doesn't hold any note for anything close to 45 minutes. Well-regarded alto player Brandon Fields is also on hand ("Kilimanjaro," "Kenya," "Affair in San Miguel," and "Tourist in Paradise"). He and Freeman trade some vehement lines on "Kilimanjaro." Freeman, at the keyboards and other places, shimmers (check out the beginning of "Kilimanjaro") and boogies throughout. Jeff Kashiwa turns in some distantly haunting reedwork on "Urban Wanderer."
The Rippingtons' position as a smoothie band of considerable renown is borne out here by the intensity of much of this music, surpassing other smoothies not only in the sweat factor but in sheer groovitude as well. Of course, as with all "Best Of"s, real fans will want to get all the records. Still, those two new tracks are as tasty as they come in this line......
Other tracks include "Snowbound," "Aruba!", "Principles of Desire," and "Vienna." Drummers and percussionists include Freeman, Tony Morales, and Steve Reid; on bass, Kim Stone, Steve Bailey, and Bill Lanphier. Mark Portmann's acoustic piano solo on "Vienna" is another highlight. Carl Anderson, Phil Perry, and Patti Austin vocalize here and there, with some others in the background, and Greg Karukas and Rob Mullins are also on keyboards. But never fear, even with all these folks coming and going, there's always that characteristic Rippingtons feel. Dance on.