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THE RIPPINGTONS, founded by Russ Freeman in 1987, are an award-winning contemporary jazz group. Approaching their 20th anniversary, The Rippingtons have not only dominated the smooth jazz landscape, they pioneered it. The band enjoyed tremendous success from the beginning, with the groundbreaking album Moonlighting, which was voted by JazzIz magazine as the Most Influential Contemporary Jazz Album of all time.
The band has had several No. 1 Billboard-charting albums, and has won several Oasis Awards, including Group of the Year Awards in 2001 and 2002. Early personnel included David Benoit, Kenny G, Brandon Fields, and Gregg Karukas. The present lineup of The Rippingtons is: Russ Freeman (guitar), Dave Karasony (drums), Bill Heller (keyboards), Kim Stone (bass), Scott Breadman (percussion), and Eric Marienthal (saxophone). This respected group has gained a worldwide fan base. Their latest CD, Wild Card, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart. Other recent recordings include Topaz, Life in the Tropics, Live! Across America, and Let It Ripp!.
Russ Freeman, the founder and leader of The Rippingtons, was raised in Nashville. He began playing guitar at age 10, and was lured into the world of studio sessions by studio guitarist John Pell, a friend of his father. By the time he was 16, Freeman was playing on recording dates regularly. After moving to L.A. in 1978, Russ studied at Cal Arts and UCLA. In 1985 he released his debut album Nocturnal Playground. The next year he founded The Rippingtons and produced the much-acclaimed CD Moonlighting, which flung The Rippingtons’ career into orbit. Freeman maintains a busy schedule of writing, touring, and producing. In 1996 he started Peak Records, which has grown to include such artists as Lee Ritenour, Paul Taylor, Eric Marienthal, Phil Perry, and Regina Belle.