Archive for September 16th, 2014

The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman – Fountain of Youth

One thing a credits geek looks for in a new recording is to see who the musicians are and what instruments they’re playing. One thing that jumps out to a credits geek when perusing Fountain of Youth (Peak, E-One, 2014) by the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman is the absence of any musicians other than Freeman. It looks and feels like a solo project.

Freeman, a fabulous guitarist, songwriter and producer, founded the Rippingtons in the middle 1980s. At the time, the group was basically Freeman surrounding himself with a flexible and versatile lineup of musician friends, including Kenny G, Brandon Fields and David Benoit. A few albums later, the group began to take shape with such players as Tony Morales, Steve Reid, Mark Portmann and Kim Stone being regular fixtures, with saxophone duties spread among Paul Taylor, Jeff Kashiwa, Kirk Whalum and Eric Marienthal.

It wasn’t until 2003’s Let It Ripp that the touring band of Freeman, Marienthal, Stone, Scott Breadman and Dave Karasony was also the session band for the entire album. That configuration remained in place until Stone’s departure a few years later. Over the years, Freeman released two solo albums and two recordings with Benoit, the Benoit/Freeman Project. However, this is the first time in Rippingtons history that there appears to be no Rippingtons – only Freeman.

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