Russ Freeman (guitarist)
|Born||February 11, 1960
|Genres||Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion|
|Occupation(s)||Guitarist, Composer, Bandleader|
|Years active||1986 to Present|
|Associated acts||The Rippingtons|
|Website||The Rippingtons Official Website|
Life and career
Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Russ Freeman learned to play guitar at age ten from a friend of his father's, who was a Nashville session musician. At age sixteen, Freeman was already playing sessions. Two years later, Freeman moved to Los Angeles, California to embark on a career as a session musician. He found various work such as playing for Jane Fonda workout videos, Englebert Humperdinck, Anne Murray and commercials. However, it was until the owner of a small record label, Brainchild Records, approached Freeman and offered to record a studio album for him. Freeman accepted, thinking it wasn't going to come out to much, but it actually opened the doors to his next album, Moonlighting.
He studied for a time at UCLA and CalArts, but remained somewhat obscure before leading the studio-formed contemporary jazz band The Rippingtons in 1986. Freeman and his manager, Andi Howard, also formed Peak Records together in 1994. A producer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Freeman also plays bass, keyboards and drums. His music can be heard during The Weather Channel's "Local on the 8s" segments and his song "Brave New World" is included in their 2008 compilation release, The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II.
Freeman originally conceived of the Rippingtons as a changing lineup of strong contemporary jazz musicians. After releasing his debut solo album, Nocturnal Playground, in 1985, Freeman assembled the first version of the band, which featured David Benoit on piano and Brandon Fields, Dave Koz, and Kenny G on saxophones, for the appropriately titled Moonlighting (1986). Kilimanjaro, the first Rippingtons album to break into the pop charts, followed in 1988. As of 1989's Tourist in Paradise, the group was contracted to the GRP label. 1990's Welcome to the St. James Club and 1991's Curves Ahead both topped the contemporary jazz best-seller charts, and 1992's Weekend in Monaco was also a popular release.
By 1993, the Rippingtons had solidified into a steady six-piece group including Freeman, Dave Kochanski on keyboards, Jeff Kashiwa on saxophone, Kim Stone on bass, Tony Morales on drums, and Steve Reid on percussion. That year saw the release of Live in L.A. In 1994, Freeman teamed with old partner David Benoit for The Benoit/Freeman Project and later in the year came Sahara, which altered the band's billing from "The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman" to "Russ Freeman & The Rippingtons." In 1995, Freeman released a solo Christmas album, Holiday, followed by the eighth Rippingtons album, Brave New World, in 1995. Cooperation with the guitarist Craig Chaquico comes at 1998, for the album From The Redwoods To The Rockies.
His wife, Yaredt Leon, has also composed some of the music on The Rippingtons albums. As of 2005, Freeman lives in Boca Raton, Florida. Freeman was previously married to Rona Freeman but the two are now divorced.
- Nocturnal Playground - 1985
- The Benoit/Freeman Project (with David Benoit) - 1994
- Holiday - 1995
- From the Redwoods to the Rockies (with Craig Chaquico) - 1998
- Drive - 2002
- The Benoit/Freeman Project 2 (with David Benoit) - 2004
- Lannert, John (1991-02-22). "Name Game Aside, Freeman Delivers". sun-sentinel.com. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Arnold, Thomas K. (1987-12-15). "Russ Freeman : Jazz Fuses With Country for a Top 10 Sound". latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Wilkins, Woodrow (2009-04-06). "The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman: Modern Art (2009)". allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Whitmer, Mike (2011-05-19). "CD review: Rippingtons and Freeman bring the house on new CD". deseretnews.com. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Silkaitis, Katherine (July–August 2005). "Russ Freeman". jazztimes.com. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Sheffield, Skip (2001-02-23). "Jazz' Russ Freeman now calls Boca home". Boca Raton News. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- "Russ Freeman Embarks On New Solo Career As A Bachelor". smoothvibes.com. 2005-10-04. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- University School of Nashville (1995), Roster of Distinguished Alumni (w), retrieved 2009-01-30