Intense keyboard high notes take "Black Book" into the exotic realm of Eastern culture and world music. Electric sitar expands the sound, adding depth and richness. "Pastels On Canvas" evokes heavenly feelings of evolving art; expressionism at its finest. Bumping it up a few notches, Kashiwa blows a wild sax as Freeman burns on guitar, setting a high stepping tone for "One Step Closer," reminiscent of the game of love one step closer, one step back with a bit of interplay ahh, the dance of love.
Still pumping it up with "Body Art," The Rippingtons show the magic that made them so famous in the first place. Modern beats, funky rhythms, keyboard aerobics, guitar stretches, rich horns, melding into an evolving form of art by outstanding artists.
Originally, the band included superstars Dave Koz, Kenny G and David Benoit during the late 80s. A few changes later, the group consists of Dave Karasony, Bill Heller, Rico Belled with guest Jeff Kashiwa, along with founder Russ Freeman, who is known as a musical genius by his peers. Freeman composes, produces and mixes many songs on this album, some along with Yaredt Leon.
"Age of Reason" features peppy twists and turns on sitar, accompanied by a wild ride on Kashiwas’ stretching sax. "Sweet Lullaby" slows the rhythm a bit as gentle keyboard and mild guitar strokes entrance the listener. Not letting the album go on a sleepy note, Freeman’s "Jet Set" pulls out all the stops with a soaring keyboard on top of a peppy, punched-up, intoxicating back-beat.
What would the album be if it didn’t end with love? "Love Story" is full illustration of all the artist’s magnificent talents weaving over, under and around each other, complementing every instrument. Bringing out the "big guy," Rick Braun is like the cherry atop the sundae, totally sliding this tune into home plate.
For 20 years, The Rippingtons have kept their sound strong and kept their fans satisfied. No wonder they are known as the face of smooth jazz with a twist.