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Rick Derringer: Free Ride

Rick Derringer may be best known as a rocker whose hit “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” is a classic-rock staple, but he steps into the contemporary-jazz arena on Free Ride (Big3) and demonstrates real flair for creating highly appealing pop-jazz tunes.

Derringer is an accomplished guitarist and composer, and Free Ride is filled with well-crafted originals, like the Latin-tinged “Celestial Love,” “Big City Loneliness” (a vocal number that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Eagles album) and the organ-spiced blues track “Blue Velvet.” Free Ride also includes three inventive remakes. On Derringer’s R&B-flavored reinvention of “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo”-renamed “Jazzy Koo”-the guitarist shares the melody with Sanbornesque saxophonist Mike MacArthur. Derringer radically reenvisioned Edgar Winter’s rock classic “Free Ride,” slowing it down and adding a funk rhythm and throaty vocals. Winter’s “Frankenstein” doesn’t work quite as well in the contemporary-jazz context, though; given a slightly slower and more deliberate tempo, it loses a bit of Winter’s rock intensity. But that’s a minor stumble on an otherwise first-rate album.

Originally Published