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Jazz - Released March 22, 2019 | eOne Music

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Jazz - Released June 10, 2014 | eOne Music

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Peak Records

Smooth jazz stalwarts the Rippingtons infuse their trademark brand of instrumental pop with a Latin aesthetic on Wild Card. Once again featuring the lead guitar of Russ Freeman, the Rippingtons deliver a solid collection of mellow contemporary pop and lite jazz that should please longtime fans. Evenly split between R&B-inflected cuts such as the Aretha Franklin hit "Till You Come Back to Me" and Latin tracks including the flamenco-inspired "Spanish Girl" and the salsa-ready "Mulata di Mi Amor," Wild Card is a pleasant listen. ~ Matt Collar
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Jazz - Released June 24, 2016 | eOne Music

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Jazz - Released August 28, 2012 | eOne Music

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Peak Records

On Let It Ripp, the contemporary jazz masters known as the Rippingtons offer a mixed exhibition of musical paintings that freely roam their "live" aesthetic more than on any previous studio project. Recorded with no outside musicians except for the horns of Jerry Hey, Gary Grant, and Steven Hoffman, this excellent collection of 11 original songs written by Russ Freeman exemplifies the culmination of 17 years of being on the road. Special guest saxophonist Eric Marienthal (whose killer chops have been heard with the likes of Chick Corea's Elektric Band, among others) provides another level of energy to the already energetic sound of Freeman, who plays guitar, synths, and keyboards, Scott Breadman on percussion, Kim Stone on bass, Dave Karasony on drums, and Bill Heller, also on keyboards. Illustrious highlights of the program include "Let It Rip" (a dynamic mix of guitar and sax), "Mr. 3" (a tune dedicated to Freeman's love of golf), "Bella Luna," and "High Life" (a party tune that features a call and response between Freeman's guitar and the horn section). Overall, these fresh collaborations have the excitement of a new day, and by alternating currents of smooth jazz with an intoxicating mix of distinctive rhythmic influences, the top-level musicianship heard here is sure to receive the acclaim it so rightly deserves. ~ Paula Edelstein
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | GRP Records

Well written, produced, and performed, it's very enjoyable. ~ Paul Kohler
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Jazz - Released May 20, 2016 | eOne Music

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Jazz - Released May 13, 2014 | eOne Music

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Jazz - Released September 29, 1997 | Windham Hill Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Concord Records, Inc.

Different musical historians will offer different opinions on exactly when smooth jazz got started. One could argue that the commercial pop-jazz that guitarist Wes Montgomery recorded for A&M with producer Creed Taylor in 1967 and 1968 (after Montgomery quit recording straight-ahead bop) marked the beginning of smooth jazz, but it was in the 1980s that the smooth jazz/NAC radio format really took off -- and the Rippingtons have often reaped the benefits of the format's popularity. Along the way, they have recorded plenty of innocuous, lightweight fluff; 2009's Modern Art often fits that description, but the 49-minute CD does have its moments. At times, guitarist Russ Freeman (the Rippingtons' founder and longtime leader) sounds like he yearns to break free of the smooth jazz/NAC format's constraints and limitations -- and a somewhat edgier side of the group asserts itself with decent results on "Body Art," the funky "Jet Set," and the title track. Also, there is a bit of an intrigue factor on the flamenco-tinged "Pastels on Canvas." But those tracks are the exception rather than the rule. Most of the time, Modern Art is highly formulaic and favors a "give the program directors what they want" approach. Do Freeman and his colleagues have what it takes to move the Rippingtons into serious fusion territory and give the group the sort of creative respectability that the Yellowjackets enjoy? Probably, but moving in that direction would scare away program directors, which is something that most of this album goes out of its way to avoid doing. Again, Modern Art has its moments, but more often than not, this is yet another play-it-safe affair for the Rippingtons. ~ Alex Henderson
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Concord Records, Inc.

Russ Freeman probably had no clue that he was starting a revolution when he put together a new band called the Rippingtons in 1986, but the advent of smooth jazz can be directly traced to the release of that band's debut Moonlighting album the following year. Some jazz purists may never forgive him for that, but Freeman and the group, having weathered numerous personnel changes, still reign within the genre and have every reason to celebrate. Hence this 20th Anniversary CD/DVD package, which finds Freeman, the guitarist/keyboardist who has been the sole mainstay throughout the decades, calling on a virtual army of past and present members to assist him in creating a fitting monument to his accomplishments. The legions who've followed the Rippingtons will know what to expect here: impeccably performed, perfectly enjoyable, occasionally stimulating pop-jazz without an out-of-place atonal squawk or honk in sight. What makes 20th Anniversary a standout is the parade of guests, among them most of the Moonlighting crew (except, thankfully, for Kenny G.) -- pianist David Benoit, drummer Tony Morales, saxophonist Brandon Fields, and percussionist Steve Reid -- and visiting saxophonists Dave Koz and Kirk Whalum, both of whom bring their distinctive wails to Freeman's compositions. Although the album is largely instrumental, a few vocalists, including Patti Austin and Jeffrey Osborne, take turns, and Brian McKnight has virtually all of the track "Anything" to himself, save for Freeman's classical guitar. It is, in the end, Freeman's guitar work that remains the main draw, though: technically proficient, he always manages to bring an emotionalism, albeit sometimes muted, to the proceedings, even if he sometimes seems as if he's aching to break out and try something truly daring and never quite does. One oddball moment: track 11, simply titled "A 20th Anniversary Bonus," suddenly and inexplicably morphs into the Spinners' '70s R&B hit "I'll Be Around," sung by Osborne, before the CD closes out. A separate retrospective DVD accompanies the audio disc. ~ Jeff Tamarkin
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Peak Records

Life in the Tropics -- the first Peak Records release for the Rippingtons -- features guitarist Russ Freeman and is a great smooth jazz celebration of rhythmic delights that resemble the tropical splendor of an island oasis. The natural beauty of each composition is reflected by the great talents of the Rippingtons: Kim Stone on bass, Dave Kochanski on keyboards, Ramon Yslas on percussion, and Dave Hooper on drums, along with special guests the great saxophonists Dave Koz, Eric Marienthal, and Paul Taylor, keyboardist Bob James, and guitarist Peter White. The centerpiece of this CD is "Love Child," a sensuous mid-tempo ballad that alternates the brilliant sax work of Marienthal and Taylor as Freeman strums an emotional string sonnet under soulful synths and keyboards. The romantic vocals of Howard Hewitt on "I Found Heaven" invite you to rediscover his intense passion for a great love ballad. Its lyrics convey the excellent songwriting abilities of Freeman and Gary Brown and their ability to connect to the emotional melorhythms of the listener. The fresh sounds revealed on Life in the Tropics are sure to please you because of their melodic elements, rhythms, brass, and great guitar of Russ Freeman. ~ Paula Edelstein
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Peak Records

While most artists merely appreciate the applause of their fans, Russ Freeman and his Rippingtons literally take requests; though they had put out Live in L.A. in 1993, their rabid fans flooded the band's official website with requests for another live date, and this set (recorded in numerous locations throughout the U.S. on 1999's Topaz tour) is the fun-filled result. Several factors make this essential even for fans who have the first live disc: first, there are three new key players who help turn the energy level higher than before, saxman Paul Taylor, drummer Dave Hooper and percussionist Ramon Yslas. There's also a looser, more jamming and improvisational feeling, with many of the familiar tracks given significant arrangement facelifts apart from their studio counterparts. Cases in point are the eight and a half minute clapalong "Jewel Thieves" (which showcases Kim Stone's intense bass soloing) and "Summer Lovers," which breaks at one point for Taylor to blow off some soulful, spontaneous steam. Freeman's rock guitar chops have gotten more confident over the years, which makes the blistering Hendrix tribute "Purple Haze/Fire" (featuring loopy vocals by Stone and Taylor), an unforgettable reminder that the leader is a monster player as well as a great composer/producer. Bookending the set are the hard-edged guitar- and sax-driven "Road Warriors" (which sums up the frenetic tour experience) and the laid-back "Kabuki," which Freeman and Stone wrote and recorded one day at sound check. ~ Jonathan Widran
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1986 | GRP Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1993 | GRP Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Concord Records, Inc.

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Jazz - Released February 22, 2019 | eOne Music