June 17, 2024

The Rippingtons
Live Across America

(Peak – 2002)
by Ricky Miller

Like the venerated rock group Steely Dan, The Rippingtons is not really a band, it’s just Russ Freeman and the company he’s keeping at the time. When it comes to smooth jazz, Rippingtons has put out it’s share of everlasting tracks including Welcome To The St. James Club and the classic She Likes To Watch from Moonlighting, the very first Rippingtons album. On this release there are a selection of tracks recorded on their 1999 ‘Topaz’ and 2000 ‘Life In The Tropics’ tours.

Because of the dual tours, there are two different versions of the Rippington’s band on this CD. One features Eric Marienthal on sax, while the other showcases the sax talents of Paul Taylor. Either way the music is vivacious and energetic, a great compliment to spring break and summer madness as we swing into the season of outdoor concerts and beach-side bar-b-que’s.

In my review of Life In The Tropics, I noted that Russ had taken a decidedly Latin bent, a great idea to help keep the band’s sound fresh. This trend is reflected in the inclusion of the burning Latin pieces Avenida Del Mar and South Beach Mambo. They say that practice makes perfect, and it would seem that Russ Freeman’s long-ongoing touring schedule has been just the thing to bring the Rippington’s live performances up to the par set by the studio releases.

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