This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with Russ Freeman.
Russ Freeman, a Grammy-nominated guitarist and composer, and also founder and leader of the popular contemporary jazz group, the Rippingtons, will be performing with the group at Aliante Casino February 18.
Freeman began playing guitar at age 10, and by the time he was 16, was playing on record dates regularly. After moving to Los Angeles from Nashville in 1978, he studied at Cal Arts and U.C.L.A. In 1985 Freeman released his debut album “Nocturnal Playground.” The next year he founded the Rippingtons, wrote and produced the much-acclaimed “Moonlighting” CD, which Jazziz magazine has called “the number one most influential contemporary jazz album of all time.”
Since then, Freeman has written, produced and performed on 21 additional Rippingtons albums, all of which have charted in the Billboard Top 5, with five of them reaching number one. His discography includes three solo albums, two collaborative projects with David Benoit, and one with Craig Chaquico. Russ has also produced numerous other artists, including the late great Carl Anderson, Eric Marienthal and Nelson Rangell.
Some of the awards presented to Russ over the years include an “Oasis Lifetime Achievement” Award, as well as “Producer Of the Year,” in 2001. The Rippingtons were chosen “Best Group 2000” by Billboard BET and “Best Group two years in a row, 2001 and 2002 by the Oasis Awards, in addition to “Achievement in Video” 2001. Freeman is also the recipient of a “Most Distinguished Alumnus Award” from the University School of Nashville, Tennessee.
Freeman is also an accomplished photographer and illustrator, skills he continues to hone on his world travels with his wife, Yaredt.