THE RIPPINGTONS: Modern Art (Label: Peak)


The Rippingtons are something of a smooth jazz institution. Russ Freeman’s band were around even before the term was coined and (in the States especially) they have a devoted fan base. Those fans will lap up this brand new 11 track collection because it ticks all the Rippington boxes – that’s to say if offers a fair share of foot tappers, a generous helping of sweet ballads and the odd oddity. The oddity in this case is ‘Paris Groove’. Odd because it features the sounds of an accordion… and you don’t get too many jazz cuts (smooth or otherwise) featuring the old squeezebox do you? It works – in as much as it conjures up the stereotypical view of the City of Light and I guess you could apply the same stereotype argument to a lot of the music here. For instance you know that ‘Love Story’ and ‘Pastels On Canvas’ are going to be dreamy slowies and that the title cut and ‘One Step Closer’ are going to be beaters … and they are. So, yes, all very predictable and also very polite. Overall the set lacks passion, attack and energy; and though some would argue that those qualities aren’t prerequisites in smooth jazz, never forget that in ‘Tourist In Paradise’ the Ripps did craft a hugely energetic and soulful groove; it can be done – but it’s not done here. If ‘Modern Art’ was any more middle of the road, it would be a white line… but, that said, said Rippingtons fans will enjoy; it just won’t create new Ripps’ believers.
(BB) 2/5