WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE!

The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman – Open Road

Apr. 12,, 2019

Russ Freeman’s creative imagination is unleashed again here on The Rippingtons’ 23rd album over a span of 3+ decades. The guitarist/founder/composer/producer says of the group’s latest endeavor Open Road, “The concept of Open Road took shape when I realized we had perhaps run out of pavement for the old way of thinking, but there were limitless choices to make about the future. I went back to basics in some ways, focusing on what energizes me the most – great melodies, dynamic arrangements and virtuoso playing. But there are a lot of incredible new technologies I wanted to leverage as well.” That is all very apparent from your first listen to the album.

Freeman talks of running out of pavement and needing to redirect some of the band’s energies back to the basics, but those basics have become such a hallmark of who this guitarist and his band have become over the years – and that’s certainly a good thing—no, a great thing.

Not getting lost in what has worked in the past, however, you can hear the technological nuances employed here, both in terms of effects and compositionally. There’s some heavy and very interesting celestial synth influence here combined with some fusion elements as well as the familiar feel of classic Ripps. The newness of some of the approaches here is refreshing and doesn’t obscure what has always worked for the true Ripps fan.

All of these tracks are of top-quality and most appealing. Among my personal faves would be the lead track “Silver Arrows’” a bouncy and exotically classic Ripps-style piece; the driving “Lost Highway,” another one with that signature Ripps feel but with the added bonus of some classical instrumentation (in fact, this track boasts different instrumentation on each chorus – a first for Freeman) and heavy percussion; the other-worldly feel of “Travels Among the Ruins” (combined with orchestral strings, no less); and a host of other solid, take-notice grooves throughout.

Freeman is certainly taking nothing for granted as he moves forward in this ever-changing musical era. Obviously a believer in the philosophy that longevity doesn’t afford one the opportunity to rest on his or her laurels, this album is both tasteful and full of cool innovations. Experience The Rippingtons yet again.– Ronald Jackson