Rippingtons, Benoit Play Guantanamo Bay

Contemporary jazz artists the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman (pictured) and the David Benoit Band are among those headlining the 2nd Annual Guantanamo Bay Jazz Festival this Labor Day, September 6, 2004.

They will be performing for an estimated crowd of 6,000 people stationed at the U. S. Naval Base with their families, representing all five of the armed forces-Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Also scheduled to perform are artists Peter White, Ronnie Laws and Nelson Rangel. The festival begins at 3 p.m. and is expected to continue until 10.

Nat Burgess of the Beverly Hills based talent agency APA (Agency for The Performing Arts) coordinated this year’s line-up for the festival with Craig Basel, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Director on behalf of the Commanding Officer, Captain Les McCoy, USN, U. S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Burgess whose son-in-law is currently stationed in Iraq stated: “I have been wanting to create a concert to perform for the troops and I’m so thrilled this has all come together. “

While for this festival they will be performing separately, pianist Benoit and guitarist Freeman are currently touring the U. S. to support their new CD, The Benoit Freeman Project 2, which marks their first collaboration in over 10 years.

Often credited as one of the pioneering groups of the contemporary jazz genre, Freeman and the Rippingtons have been on the smooth jazz scene since the late ’80s, when Freeman formed the group with his buddies Benoit, Kenny G and Dave Koz. Since then, the Rippingtons have released 15 recordings, their most recent is Let It Ripp.

David Benoit’s career as a contemporary jazz pianist began in 1977 and includes 24 solo recordings over the past 27 years. His 1985 radio hit “Linus and Lucy” helped launch the smooth jazz genre and his long association with Charles Schulz and Peanuts led to more than 10 years of composing music for Peanuts TV specials on CBS. He has received three Grammy nominations and has a burgeoning career as a symphonic conductor and composer of film scores, including the Clint Eastwood-produced The Stars Fell on Henrietta, starring Robert Duvall.