The Rippingtons' latest CD,Topaz, was inspired by Taos, New Mexico - both its history and its present. This influence is primarily expressed with the addition of the carved wood flute of Robert Tree Cody on several selections. On some songs, the acoustic guitars and/or percussion paint an aural picture of serene, wide-open spaces with flowing melody lines and gently galloping rhythms. On a few other songs, though, the effect is derailed by the more mechanical chunking of programmed drum tracks. Overall, an interesting album, and somewhat of a departure from the traditional Rippingtons sound - which I'm sure is the intent, plus the fact that this seems to be primarily Russ Freeman's voice rather than a more collective band sound that some previous Rippingtons CDs had. (Peak/Windham Hill Jazz 11438)
Tracks:Taos; Summer Lovers; Spirits in the Canyon; Under a Spanish Moon; Temple of the Sun; Stories of the Painted Desert; Snakedance; Led Here by an Eagle; Topaz: Gem of the Setting Sun; Rain. (49:01)
Russ Freeman. acoustic, electric, classical, 12-string guitars, keyboards, bass; Dave Hooper, drums; Dave Kochanski, keyboards; Kim Stone, bass; Paul Taylor, soprano sax; Robert Tree Cody, carved wooden flute; Bill Heller, keyboards; Tom Gannaway, flamenco guitar; Tony Morales, drums; Steve Reid, percussion.