The last 'great' Rippingtons album
Virginia Vol | Virginia, USA | 05/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is very much a transition album for the band, with the departure of long-time member Steve Reid and sax man Jeff Kashiwa. Paul Taylor joined the group as Kashiwa's replacement, but is only present on a few of the tracks here. As such, along with the Southwestern style there is a lot of Russ Freeman's guitar and less horns than previous Ripps albums.
There are several tunes with more layers of guitar and synth than anything else, but Freeman pulls it off with the unique Rippingtons style present in previous recordings. Very replayable and enjoyable to listen to with a good balance of tempos.
Sadly, the group struggled mightily after this album and lost much of the identity that made them unique, falling into the straight 'Smooth Jazz' trap. Subsequent recordings haven't come close to the overall strength of this or previous records. The 20th Anniversary album had several good recordings due to the return of some of the previous members (Reid, Kashiwa, Brandon Fields) but still lacks the overall depth.
But, Topaz is a winner and should be an essential part of your Rippingtons collection, particularly if you're a fan of the band's recording through the 80s and 90s."
Vizioli de Meo Francesco | Rome, Italy | 09/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For me the best Rippingtons CD, it is quite different in style from all other Ripps CDs, which, in my humble opinion, are still good but a little easier and quite similar to oneanother. I mean that this one has something special about it, I might say it is almost like the girl that makes you feel something special inside compared with other girls that you simply like because they look good. My favourite track is "Led here by an Eagle" (not "by an Angel" as it is written in the list of tracks here at Amazon). I would say Topaz sounds similar to a CD that Russ Freeman recorded in collaboration with Craig Chaquico and whose title is "From the Redwoods to the Rockies". I think that normally the Rippingtons make smooth jazz with a rock feel, Topaz is smooth jazz with a country feel. To all the other Ripps CDs I would give three or four stars, in this case no doubt: five full stars."