The Rippingtons - True Stories (2016)

The Rippingtons
the_rippingtons_true_stories.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Russ Freeman, the guitarist for the band The Rippingtons, keeps the names of plenty of talented musicians in his contact list. The Grammy nominated band celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with the release of True Stories, the 22nd record that features their signature toothy Jazz Cat on the jacket art.

Besides, Freeman, Jazz Cat has been The Rippingtons only constant. However, if long time Rippington fans couldn’t discern any drop off, it’s likely due to the talent that included the likes of Kirk Whalum, Kenny G, David Benoit and Omar Hakim.

Russ Freeman, the guitarist for the band The Rippingtons, keeps the names of plenty of talented musicians in his contact list. The Grammy nominated band celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with the release of True Stories, the 22nd record that features their signature toothy Jazz Cat on the jacket art.

Besides, Freeman, Jazz Cat has been The Rippingtons only constant. However, if long time Rippington fans couldn’t discern any drop off, it’s likely due to the talent that included the likes of Kirk Whalum, Kenny G, David Benoit and Omar Hakim.

And with Freeman playing the guitar, the group’s sound was instantly recognizable regardless of who joined him in the studio or on stage. And it is that guitar playing that distinguishes the 10 tracks heard on True Stories. Freeman is at his best when he gives his listeners a taste of Spanish guitar on “Flamenco Beach,” which is the album’s strongest cut. The track was inspired by the Andalusia region, which is located in Southern Spain, in an area where Spanish and Moorish culture mix, and that fusion can be heard on this track both through Freeman’s Andres Segovia-inspired finger work and the Middle Eastern percussion that changes the tempo toward the song’s end.

Nine of True Stories’ 10 tracks  are instrumental, but the one cut featuring vocals – “My Promise” – is another standout. Jeffrey Osborne adds his vocals to this mid-tempo torch song about a man looking to win his woman back by promising to make a clean break from his past. Osborne, as SoulTrackers learned from listening to A Time for Love, his 2013 album of reinterpretations of Great American Songbook tunes, knows how to work a standard. And “My Promise” shows that vocally he remains where he was while making R&B and pop hits for LTD and as a solo artist from the mid 70s to early 90s.

All of the 10 tracks on True Stories will draw in those hard core Rippington fans. However, this project broadens its appeal when Freeman steps out front with his energetic soloing on tracks such as “Dream Catcher.” Throughout the years, besides Freeman and Jazz Cat, there is a third constant on The Rippingtons’ albums: consistent creativity. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
Featured Album - Will Downing - "Romantique, Part 1"
Featured Album - The Soul Rebels - "Poetry In Motion"
Album of the Month - Plunky & Oneness - "Afroclectic"
Choice Cut - Chris Jasper - "For The Love of You"

Leave a comment!