The Rippingtons - �Cote D�Azur�

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole�s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. After many excursions to France, and train trips from Paris to the Cote D�Azur, Rippingtons leader Russ Freeman felt music stirring inside him. Now this artistic outpouring has manifested itself in the band�s latest (and eighteenth) offering, Cote D�Azur, which takes its name from that sublime region of the French Riviera and is due for release on February 1. In fact Freeman�s extensive travels to this unique coastline have, in the main, been made in the company of his wife Yaredt Leon and although the influence of Freeman on Cote D�Azur is front back and centre it is Leon who co-writes the high energy title track and the closing number �Mesmerized� with him. More exotic and deeper than any project that Freeman has previously written or produced, every one of the ten all original compositions are far more than a simple travelogue, they are from the heart.

Heralded in on an almost European style dance beat, Cote D�Azur is dramatically up and running with the lively title cut that quickly hits a typically intense Rippingtons stride. Rhythmic and inviting it is in delicious contrast to �Provence� which is afforded a whole new dimension by superb keys from Bill Heller and smoothly evolves into what can only be described as a reflective charmer. The familiar Rippingtons line-up is completed by Rico Belled on bass, drummer Dave Karasony and notably Jeff Kashiwa whose vibrant sax is a feature of the upbeat �Riviera Jam�. It�s the sort of inspiring tune for which this classy collective has become famous and whilst �Le Calypso� proves to be another slice of vintage Rippingtons, �Rue Paradis� takes the band into unfamiliar chill territory where paradoxically they appear totally at home.

Elsewhere, the Moorish influences that have endured on this coast of France for centuries are captured to perfection with the North African overtones of �Bandol� and again with the complex �Passage To Marseilles�. In fact the love Freeman has for this unique part of the Mediterranean shines through in every note and this is particularly so with the warmly evocative �Sainte Maxime�. In fact sumptuous understated melodies are a feature of the entire collection and as the tempo slows for the magically restrained �Postcard From Cannes� all that remains is for the album to glide to a tranquil finale with the beautiful �Mesmerized� which conjures up vivid images of a golden sun sinking beneath a shimmering horizon.

With Cote D�Azur Freeman has painted a stunning musical picture that reveals a very different Rippingtons and one that is sure to enthrall fans both new and old.

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

In celebration of The Rippingtons' latest album Cote D'Azur, Peak and Concord Music Group are giving away a Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest Superfan Package!