C"te d'Azur
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2011
"Côte d'Azur" is the latest musical voyage from the Rippingtons, whose assets are becoming larger and larger, varied but also very poppish and commercial, in contrast with their distinctive and elegant 'jazz' releases like "Moonlightong" or "Life in the Tropics".
These days they and their frontman seem very oriented towards the most commercially potent subgenre to fall under the jazz banner in recent years, the so called 'smooth jazz', and this album makes no exception.
Forget the liner notes of the album, which are meant for the market/press realease and may distract the listeners with the mirage of exotic landscapes.
"Le calypso" will please their fans who appreciate his relaxed playing, nice grooves and POPular melodies.
His optimistic 'sound' shines on cuts like "Riviera Jam".
The lilting "Mesmerized" has a delicate melodic beauty.
"Passage To Marceilles" and "Bandol" up the tempo with solid North-african/Spanish grooves.
The result is that, even as he dazzles with his mastery of licks and tricks, this time Freeman rarely blows out a melody free of learned clichés, with his, at times, apparent lack of originality and many studied serious solo moments numbing as things press on.
The album is very enjoyale, relaxing, yes, but too slick or sappy though, providing, at times, jazz of integrity and smoothness for chilling out to or eating dinner by.
Jazz collectors will likely not be too interested in the disc, but in general, soft, lite jazz/pop radio stations' listeners, searching for something soothing, high-gloss background music, more than something of a more raw or challenging nature, certainly will be happy to buy it.
The more casual listener will appreciate its wide-ranging gathering of 21st century pop/ smooth jazz cuts, and this might even rope in some Kenny G., Dave Koz or the latest, sighing Diana Krall listeners who'll find it a good taster for the more authentic stuff.
All in all, "Côte d'Azur" is a collection of pleasant, chirpy bunch of pretty tunes, easily forgettable, never memorable.
An accomplished musician like Freeman is capable to do much more and better than this.

Update. After one week at # 3 of The Billboard Jazz Chart, The Rippingtons dip to # 24. Issue date: April 30, 2011.
The track wich does best is "Riviera Jam", which made # 15 on the Jazz Songs Chart. Billboard Issue Date: Week of February 26, 2011.

Moonlighting
Life in the Tropics
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2011
The Rippingtons are one of my favorite cool jazz groups. If I see a new release I just pop it into the Amazon cart unheard. This one won't disappoint Jazz Cat fans and fans of the genre of smoothjazz. I particularly like "Le Calypso" organs and Marlboro Man guitar. Who would have thought? Cote d"Azur has a great drum beat and a little fuzz guitar for spice. Let the head bobbing begin.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a great cd! The Ripps' sound is definitely evolving, so you have to start judging their albums individually. This isn't Welcome to the St James Club, Moonlighting, or Life in the Tropics (so if that's what you're expecting, go buy those). It's something different...and it's definitely worth picking up.

After the first day of listening to it, I'd have to say Sainte Maxime is my favorite on this cd...and likely one of my favorites period. Lots of upbeat, feel-good music here. I'm still angry with Russ about Wild Card, but the last three cds have renewed my faith in the Ripps.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2011
Russ Freeman and Crew continues to surprise and re-invent.
Now to turn that dumb Cliche around:
Unfortunately, there are too few Elevators featuring the Rippingtons.
It certainly would make for a much more enjoyable ride.

Being far from the stigma of "Elevator Music", Cote D'Azur has some VERY STRONG MOMENTS, like Passage to Marseille, with it's involved and solid percussion tapestry beyond the common Ka-Bonka Ka-Bonka.

Despite some critics saying "They have turned commercial" blahbla... (As if it were a crime to make a living as a musician!!)::

It shines through that Russ Freeman is enjoying his work.
I find something new and refreshing in (almost) every album they ever have made.

Excellent for a Cafe / Casual / Background environment, it is a good to have Music that is interesting but does not dominate everything in a 5-mile radius like a Rolling Stones Concert.

Sooo,
My bottom line here is:
The Rippingtons have just released another sweet Album.
You can play it while driving your Porsche or your Wheelchair, or even your Elevator, doohh=) , and - YES, they got a bit more polished with this Album, but that is just Russ Freeman who probably does not sleep until he has a Radio-friendly mix-down.
There is nothing ground-breaking-revolutionary in this Album, just solid craftsmanship and good entertainment.
No track on Cote D'Azur is too uninteresting that I won't play it -even repeatedly- and that earns 5 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2013
I have purchased other Rippington's CDs and enjoy the upbeat, sultry and festive sounds. It takes me on a mini-vacation after a tough day or on a weekend. Really enjoy this one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2013
Are you burnt out too? Tired, discouraged, just want to relax? There are a lot of New Age Jazz stars which will relax you. Peter White,Vlad,Marc Antoine,David Benoit,Acoustic Alchemy,and yes Yanni to list a few. But the best and the originals are Russ Freeman & The Rippingtons. Start with the best of the Rippingtons and feast on all the other releases by this legendary group.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2011
Another great project by the masterful player and composer Russ Freeman. This is first class Smooth Jazz. This CD is enjoyable from start to finish. The rythm section is impeccable and the recording had depth. True ripps fans should soak this one up. The sound are bright and happy. That organ sound in "Le calypso" is innovative and it will stuck in your head for days. Enjoy with an open mind.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I like the fact that Russ Freeman (and the Rippingtons) have a coherent theme for this CD. Music inspired by the French Riveiera. It's given Russ a songwriting focus and a sonic template to work with - there's the sound of an accordian here, some muted North African-style trumpet there, little touches. Some nice melodies, nothing too contrived this time around. After the OK Modern Art, the moderatley disappointing Wild Card and the pretty unmemorable 20th Anniversary, I would rank this as the best Ripps release since Let it Ripp.

Is it jazz? No way. It's instrumental pop. But it's pleasant, a couple songs actually show a little bit of an edge (Cote D^Azur is almost a classic Rippingtons CD opener ala Weekend in Monaco, and Sainte Maxime lets Jeff Kashiwa show off on sax a little bit), and the pretty songs are very very nice (Postcard from Canne, Provence). Provence also has a really tasty Rhodes piano solo along with Russ doing his best George Benson impersonation on guitar. Passage to Marseille could ALMOST be called a Pat Metheny song because of the Middle Eastern strings and rhythms.

Bottom line, it's nothing the Rippingtons haven't done even with the French theme. But it isn't bad, and hearing the accordian solo in Postcard from Canne is pretty cool. 3-1/2 stars from me, but not rounding up to 4.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2014
A very pleasant surprise!
Melodic, and a lively beat; soothing -- but definitely not sleeping music!
Underlying European flavor
Excellent diversity on the CD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2012
I bought this CD with a few others after hearing a selection on the Smooth Jazz radio program that airs in Wichita, KS every Sunday morning. It is absolutely fabulous!
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