Smooth jazz kings the Rippingtons are celebrating two decades together with a new CD, 20th Anniversary, and a nationwide tour. In 1986 Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons came on the music scene with their own brand of smooth jazz. Something more accessible than straight-ahead jazz but still intelligent; smooth jazz became Freeman's personal playground. Over the years the Rippingtons circled the world, playing for crowds of loyal fans and releasing 17 albums, including Welcome to the St. James Club, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Through it all, founder Freeman (guitar, keyboards and programming) has been the heart of the group. And wherever he went, the group did, too. Literally and figuratively. When Freeman moved to Colorado in 1991, the group's next CD included the song "Aspen"; when he relocated to South Florida, the group developed a decidedly Latin sound. For the 20th Anniversary CD, the group is joined by past band members and friends such as Patti Austin, David Benoit, Dave Koz, Jeffrey Osborne, Tony Morales, Bill Heller and Kirk Whalum. Sadly, none of them is expected at the Houston show.
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