Release Date: 05.06.03
Record label: peak records
Genre(s): Classical, Jazz
Smooth Jazz Can Be Cool
by: brian dinardo
Russ Freeman’s band, The Rippingtons, is a hard case. What we have is a damn fine band in a fairly disrespected genre: smooth/lite/contemporary jazz. Let it Ripp, their twelfth album, is a perfect example of talented cats making great music and doing it with style. If your taste in jazz refuses to go beyond Winford or Monk and you think Pat Methany is elevator music, then giddy-up, your high horse is awaitin’!
In the liner notes, Freeman conveys his enthusiasm for creating an album with no outside musicians (with the exception of a horn section) that appeals to their audience’s want for “our high energy stuff”. This album comes off as just that; a labor of love from the band to their fans.
The CD opens with the title track, a swinging declaration of confidence. The album continues in this vein until the fourth song. "A Private Getaway" fills this listener's head with visions of Spanish sunsets enjoyed from the deck of a yacht. "High Life" sounds for all the world like a lost Gap Band tune. "17 Mile Drive" explodes off the tee in a Woodsian (hey did I just make up a new word?) fashion and lands softly. "Get Over It" finishes the album with an Island beat and Freeman showing his guitar prowess. Song by song, there is not a loser in the bunch. Though the boys rarely stray from the fun, upbeat stuff, you can hear all the influences that make great musicians: rock, funk, R&B, spanish guitar, salsa. The added horn section gives you a tower of power that drives many of these compositions to a live, party atmosphere.
So forget what the critics say about “smooth” jazz. Forget that Kenny G was once a member. Drop the top after a hard day and turn up the volume. Slide it into the system at dinner when “mood” is essential. There is nothing wrong with good music and there is definitely something right with Let It Ripp! 01-Aug-2003 8:20 AM