The Rippingtons - Côte D'azur (2011)

The Rippingtons

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Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons have been making music for more than 25 years. That means that Freeman and his band mates spend a lot of time on the road touring and performing in live concerts. The Rippingtons' fans know that Freeman draws inspiration for a lot of his music from many of their ports of call, and he often names records after many of the countries and cities that the Rippingtons have visited over the years. In that way, the Rippingtons latest record, Cote D'Azur has a lot in common with other recordings made by the contemporary jazz outfit.

Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons have been making music for more than 25 years. That means that Freeman and his band mates spend a lot of time on the road touring and performing in live concerts. The Rippingtons' fans know that Freeman draws inspiration for a lot of his music from many of their ports of call, and he often names records after many of the countries and cities that the Rippingtons have visited over the years. In that way, the Rippingtons latest record, Cote D'Azur has a lot in common with other recordings made by the contemporary jazz outfit.

But Cote D'Azur has a different back-story.  While Freeman had a hand in composing all of the song, Yaredt Leon, Freeman's wife and constant travel partner, co-wrote the title track, as well as "Mesmerized," which is the final song on the album. Leon, who is French-Colombian, helped to introduce Freeman to the homeland of her father, and the guitarist fell in love with the country - most specifically the French Rivera. The 10 tracks on Cote D'Azur were all inspired by Freeman's trips to the region, and several have that Southern European, Mediterranean feel.

That region of the world is a place where several cultures intermingle. That can be heard in tunes such as "Passages To Marseilles," with its Flamenco rhythms and some adept acoustic guitar work by Freeman. And while fans who have never been to the French Rivera will only know many of the locales as spots on a map images they see on television travel shows, the band's music definitely conjures up the feel. Songs like "Bandol" sport a swing that definitely has a tropical feel. Of course, the guitar is an instrument that captures that feel and Freeman's guitar work is inspired whether he is going acoustic or adding a rock element on a track like "Sainte Maxime."

One reason why the Rippingtons have been able to attract such a following throughout their travels is that the group's music finds the balance between ‘contemporary' and ‘jazz.' Songs like "Provence" and "Rivera Jam" both have that accessible feel that goes down easy with R&B fans while also employing that musical conversation between the players that jazz fans have come to expect. Sure, a group like the Rippingtons won't satisfy the jazz purist, but the formula has a growing number of fans circling the globe with them. Cote D'Azur will keep those fans on board and eagerly awaiting the next stop. Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
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