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

The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman: True Stories

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

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