Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman: True Stories

The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman mark their 30th anniversary this year with True Stories, an album that demonstrates how to update a band’s sound without losing what made it popular in the first place. The Rippingtons started as a supergroup led by guitarist/principal composer Freeman and featuring such contemporary-jazz luminaries as keyboardist David Benoit and saxophonists Kenny G, Dave Koz and Brandon Fields-who returns to the Rippingtons fold for several tracks on True Stories. The group’s 1986 release, Moonlighting, has become one of the classics of the contemporary-jazz genre, and the success of that album inspired Freeman to form a permanent band under the Rippingtons name.

The personnel has changed over the years, but what’s remained constant (aside from the group’s cartoon jazz-cat mascot) is Freeman’s gift for composing stay-in-your-head melodies enhanced by multi-stylistic, multicultural elements. Freeman has of late been adding current electronic rhythms and textures to his work. On True Stories the catchy, dance-floor-friendly “Wild Tales” is built on galloping, percussive electronic funk grooves; while an atmospheric electronic backdrop provides dramatic contrast to Freeman’s rock-tinged guitar leads on the anthemic power ballad “Wonderland.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published