The newest album in the prolific catalog of Russ Freeman and The Rippingtons turns out to be a wonderful package of well-written and enjoyable songs, inspired by Freeman’s travels across the French countryside. With his wife, Yaredt Leon (who also cowrote the first and last tracks), Freeman explores the various locales near the French Riviera through the musical styles of each region. As Russ says on his website (

“People have frequently remarked that our albums are like a travelog of my life, and it's never been more true than in the case of Cote d'Azur."

From the opening track to the last, it is obvious the music comes from a group that understands the “smooth jazz” concept and relishes the chance to help the listener experience something more than musical notes from a box. Each track tells a story of the people and experiences found in Freeman’s travels. The title track starts things off with wonderful saxophone work and keyboard support to a beautiful melody that transports the listener right to the French Riviera. Especially enthralling are “Bandol,” with its brilliant Spanish guitar influence and well-cut percussion, and the closing track, “Mesmerized,” featuring the song-writing skills of Yaredt Leon.

Those familiar with The Rippingtons and Russ Freeman are bound to find another pleasant example of why this group has been so popular for 25 years. And those who haven’t tried the “Ripps” will discover music that will impress and lift the listener with its power and originality.

Mike Whitmer works and listens to jazz and new age music while living in Utah with his wife of 34 years (who hates jazz). You can reach him at or visit his blog at