Search - Rippingtons :: Modern Art

Modern Art
Modern Art
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

When you think about contemporary music, there are very few bands that have had the lasting impression and impact that the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman have had. For over 20 years this band has been delighting audi...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Rippingtons
Title: Modern Art
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Peak Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/2009
Re-Release Date: 3/10/2009
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Smooth Jazz, Easy Listening
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 888072306356


Album Description
When you think about contemporary music, there are very few bands that have had the lasting impression and impact that the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman have had. For over 20 years this band has been delighting audiences all over the world with their distinct, signature sound. Now with their 17th album, Russ Freeman has once again demonstrated why he is one of the true musical innovators in the contemporary jazz genre with Modern Art. Featuring a familiar "cast of characters", Modern Art once again showcases a unique musical style that was created many years ago and still sounds as fresh and new today as it did when they started. Soaring horns, melodic keyboards and driving percussion are all anchored by the intricate guitar styling of Freeman.

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CD Reviews

Consistent but not brilliant
K. Bortz | Delmont, PA USA | 03/11/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"OK, Rippingtons fans - what does this new CD, "Modern Art", sound like with the return of one-time sax/wind player Jeff Kashiwa, the absence of long-time bassist Kim Stone, and the departure of percussion effects/congas/etc. completely?

The answer is not bad. Kashiwa brings his "A" game, blowing the heck out of the sax and really grooving. And some of Russ Freeman's guitar work interplays well with Kashiwa. There's also some nice piano/keyboard lines from Bill Heller, although some of it is definitely dated in the 80s. The bass/drums are mixed extremely well and really bring a lot of thump to the tracks, but the bass lines are not at all distinctive like you could expect from Stone. And, typical of latter-day Rippingtons work, the keyboards add a feel of rhythm with looped effects.

However, the songs are not really distinctive. The lack of percussion helps bring a sameness to the sound, although Kahiwa alleviates this some by changing the sax type (soprano, alto, etc.). The sameness to the songs is both good and bad. There aren't any throwaway songs that make me want to fall asleep or skip the songs, but there also aren't any of those "wow" songs I expect from the Ripps. It's all very pleasant, but it reminds me of the last two Steely Dan albums - comfortable and not challenging, so nice but not near the standards expected by the group.

Another Rippingtons album with no new ground broken
Mike | San Jose, CA | 03/14/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Let's just work our way through this one track by track.

1). "Modern Art"...a "Quiet Storm / Smooth Jazz" FM Radio-friendly opening track. The plus is that Russ Freeman can be heard on the track, there is no fake Santana rhythm section, and the horns are part of the mix, not a squealing, honking annoyance as on the last few "high energy" efforts from the Ripps. The track is harmless, hardly memorable, but alt least a step back toward the more balanced Rippingtons sound.

2). "Paris Groove"...not bad, some tasteful and melodic Freeman acoustic guitar, once again a welcome return to the pre-"Let It Ripp" Rippingtons sound. The flips side is that if you found the "Let It Ripp" album to be a life-altering experience, you may not be as delighted as I am. This one's even more radio-friendly than the opening track (and "meatier" as a composition...good job Russ).

3). "Black Book"...A full minute into this track, the melody is still tentatively creeping up over the bass vamp...this is ambient background music, not the kind of thing I would actually listen to for enjoyment. By minute two we have a few more layers, but the problem is that it is so similar to every one of the similar "Quiet Storm" smooth jazz songs you've heard on the radio that you have to ask yourself...what will make you remember this track?

4). "Pastel On Canvas"...We're four tracks into this album and we can see that Russ Freeman might have been listening to the feedback regarding the absence of his guitar playing on the last few albums (or the fact that it was buried at the bottom of a busy and cacophonous mix). Pleasant, yet still not "grab you by the lapels and demand your attention" stuff.

5). "One Step Closer"...This band really needs to push the envelope and try something new. You've heard this song a million times before...even if you haven't.

6). "I Still Believe"...very, very, very laid back...maybe TOO laid back. I can hear Tim Meadows on SNL saying "I'm doing OK...I've got my Courvoisier right here."

7). "Body Art"...More soloing over very basic jazz-light comps with no memorable song underneath.

8). "Age Of Reason"...Another quiet one...but it is still vanilla pudding.

9). "Sweet Lullaby"...more Freeman front-and-center, not bad, but you won;t be paying 99 cents to add it to your iPod.

10). "Jet Set"...the first electric guitar soling from Freeman on the album, but unlike the standout tracks on the last few albums, it never really catches fire.

11). "Love Story"...the standout track, but on an album featuring songs as weak as this one, it's not saying much. More electric Freeman.

Overall, the album is better than "Let It Ripp" and anything that followed. The problem is that unlike Let It Ripp, Wild Card and 20th Anniversary, there isn't a single killer track.

To be fair, it paints a much brighter picture of the band's future than I would have imagined, because the loud horns / Santana thing was as played out as played out can get.

Maybe it's time for Freeman to collaborate with some outside songwriters...and by that I mean any musician who has never played with the band. Fresh perspective, fresh compositions to challenge what we know are talented musicians, but who are also in a ho-hum holding pattern.

2 stars and an "E" for effort. Hey, that's better than flunking out, right?"
Radio friendly, enjoyable and current.
for jazz music's sake | Warsaw, Poland | 05/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Russ Freeman's Smooth Jazz iconic group celebrate almost 25 years recording with this archetypal Rippingtons offering.
This is their 17th album.
Having followed Russ Freeman & his Rippingtons since the beginning, I must admit that I miss the 'good old days'. This band practically invented the smooth jazz genre but after some stunning albums, they ran out of steam and their brilliant signature texturing and soudscaping with the album "Sahara".
More albums followed but they all lacked memorable and significant catchy melodies.
Although some of the participants have changed through the years -- former members include Dave Koz and David Benoit -- guitarist/keyboardist Freeman has remained a constant as the heart and soul of the band.
The current composition of the Rippingtons includes drummer Dave Karasony, bassist Rico Belled, Bill Heller on keyboards and accordion, and Jeff Kashiwa on sax and EWI. Smooth jazz trumpet star Rick Braun also shows up on one track, "Love Story," one of many on the album that reflect the group's strong roots in the genre.
"Modern Art" will delight their legion of Smooth Jazz fans with easy on the ear grooves like "Paris Groove" and "Modern Art".
The atmospheric 'Black Book' has a Soul feel, whilst the funkier "One Step Closer" and "Body Art" are pleasing slice of very smooth Jazz. "Age Of Reason" and "Jet Set" are also strong grooves.
This is the group's best set in several years.
The mix of smooth grooves, Jazz, R'n'B and West Coast rock remains with cuts like "One Step Close" and "Age Of Reason".
I have been playing it continously for a week now.
I am never tired of it.
This is a 'must' have CD if you're a dedicated Rippingtons' fan.
It's not edgy. It is not a ground breaking album, but it is current, radio friendly and enjoyable, without saccharine aftertaste.
And this is not a small feat.
The album debuts at # 2 of the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz charts.
Issue date: 2009-03-28