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Curves Ahead

The Rippingtons

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Album Review

For a number of years, Rippingtons mastermind Russ Freeman had a hard time approaching the inspirational pop jazz perfection of 1989's Tourist in Paradise, but this fifth group album came close with its hummable compositions, eclectic blend of tempor, emphasis on acoustic piano and guitar, and wondrous musicianship. As a composer, Freeman has a distinctive knack for conjuring up exotic images ("Nature of the Beast" takes the listener to Africa, while "Aspen" travels high up into ski country) and for remembering past gems in his lush, unrivaled catalog. As such, the lovely "Morning Song" recalls "Oceansong," and "Aspen" looks back to "She Likes to Watch." Yet there are always enough new twists to keep listeners on their toes — for the first time, Freeman uses a horn section (featuring labelmate Nelson Rangell) which lights a fire under "Santa Fe Trail" and the title track. Rangell, who shares sax duties with Jeff Kashiwa and the soulful Kirk Whalum, is also allowed a few peppery flute runs. And no Ripps release would be complete without the marvelously original soundscaping of Steve Reid. Cameos by pianist Mark Portman, trombonist Bruce Fowler, Omar Hakim, and Dave Grusin round out yet another genre classic by Freeman.

Customer Reviews

"Take Me With You" still makes my heart flutter.

This slow "ballad" is the standout track on this album. It's emotion captures your heart and makes you never want to want to leave a love behind again.

Curves Ahead

Pop this album in the dash and drive forever

Not bad

This album reminds me of skiing

Biography

Formed: 1987

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most popular groups in what is loosely termed "contemporary jazz," the Rippingtons were formed (and have been led ever since) by guitarist/keyboardist Russ Freeman (no relation to the veteran West Coast bop pianist of the same name). Freeman (born February 11, 1960, in Nashville) studied at Cal Arts and UCLA, and recorded Nocturnal Playground as a leader in 1985 for the Brainchild label, a one-man project. In 1987, he was approached to record for the Japanese Alfa label and came up with...
Full Bio
Curves Ahead, The Rippingtons
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