All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

514

The Rippingtons: 20th Anniversary

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
In 1986, the term "smooth jazz had not made its way into the vernacular. However, the groundwork for what would become a radio format and, to some degree, a genre of music, had been laid. Among those paving the way was Russ Freeman, founder and principal songwriter for the Rippingtons.

In the early years, the Rippingtons weren't a band so much as a concept. As Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were to Steely Dan, Freeman was to the Rippingtons, surrounding himself with a variable lineup of musicians. Although the group has been more stable in recent years (a fixed lineup recorded the last two studio albums, not counting horns or vocalists), bassist Kim Stone and percussionist Scott Breadman do not appear on the new 20th Anniversary.

With this recording, Freeman took a unique approach. Rather than perform remakes of popular Rippingtons songs, he called upon many of those who had recorded or toured with the group over the years. With two exceptions, 20th Anniversary is comprised of all-new compositions. The horn section of Jerry Hey, Gary Grant and Bill Reichenbach joins for the anthem "Celebrate, which features a saxophone duet between Kirk Whalum (tenor) and Paul Taylor (soprano). Alums Jimmy Johnson (bass), Steve Reid (percussion) and Tony Morales (drums) help round out this piece.

David Benoit joins on acoustic piano for the elegant Latin piece "Costa Del Sol, co-written by Freeman and Yaredt Leon. Jeffrey Osborne, Patti Austin and Elena Leon perform wordless vocals, adding to the tropical flavor. Throughout, Freeman's guitars and, on some selections, bass, are in top form. He can adapt to any situation and plays with exceptional precision.

While most of the album accomplishes Freeman's goal of bringing past players back together to record new music, one song doesn't belong: Brian McKnight's "Anything. This duet between Freeman and McKnight sounds nothing like the Rippingtons. Perhaps it would work on McKnight's own release or even a "duets album, a la Tony Bennett, but not on the Rippingtons' milestone celebration.

Fortunately, that's the only weak link on this album, which closes with "A 20th Anniversary Bonus, a medley of several classic Rippingtons songs, including "Tourist in Paradise, "Curves Ahead and "Brave New World. The accompanying DVD, however, is a bit of a disappointment. It includes some early videos and an all-too-brief retrospective.

An oddity about the Rippingtons is that while the group is considered a pioneer of smooth jazz, it's not a jazz band. Freeman has described it as more of a rock group. However, marketing forces tend to call predominantly instrumental popular music jazz, no matter what the intent of the songwriter. Whatever the classification, the Rippingtons are one of contemporary music's dominant forces: each recording is different from the last, and their live shows rock with energy. With a twenty-year track record, Freeman and the Rippingtons continue to move forward while acknowledging the past.

Track Listing: City of Angels; Celebrate; Costa Del Sol; Bingo Jingo; Eternity; Six Four; Rainbow; Twenty; Anything; A Kiss Under the Moonlight; A 20th Anniversary Bonus.

Personnel: Russ Freeman: bass, keyboards, acoustic, classical and electric guitars; Dave Karasony, Tony Morales: drums; Bill Heller: keyboards, organ; Brandon Fields, Kirk Whalum, Paul Taylor, Eric Marienthal, Dave Koz, Jeff Kashiwa: saxophones; Jimmy Johnson: bass; Jerry Hey, Gary Grant: trumpets; Bill Reichenbach: trombone; Steve Reid: percussion; David Benoit: acoustic piano; Patti Austin, Elena Leon: vocals (3); Gregg Karukas: keyboards, piano; Brian McKnight: vocals and all instruments except classical guitar (9); Jeffrey Osborne: vocals (3,8).

Title: 20th Anniversary | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Peak Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
True Stories

True Stories

Peak Records
2016

buy
Fountain of Youth

Fountain of Youth

eOne Music
2014

buy
Built to Last

Built to Last

eOne Music
2012

buy
Cote D' Azur

Cote D' Azur

Peak Records
2011

buy
Modern Art

Modern Art

Peak Records
2009

buy
20th Anniversary

20th Anniversary

Peak Records
2006

buy

Related Articles

Read Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller CD/LP/Track Review
Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Vera CD/LP/Track Review
Vera
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 18, 2018
Read In Motion CD/LP/Track Review
In Motion
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Marshian Time Slip CD/LP/Track Review
Marshian Time Slip
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Four On The Road CD/LP/Track Review
Four On The Road
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 17, 2018
Read "Overneath" CD/LP/Track Review Overneath
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 15, 2018
Read "Yes, and...Music for Nine Improvisers" CD/LP/Track Review Yes, and...Music for Nine Improvisers
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 6, 2018
Read "A New Beginning" CD/LP/Track Review A New Beginning
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 23, 2018
Read "The Way of It" CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "The Late Set" CD/LP/Track Review The Late Set
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 14, 2017
Read "Naacal" CD/LP/Track Review Naacal
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 25, 2018