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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Russ Freeman & Girard Sauvignon Blanc

Russ Freeman is the founder and leader of the contemporary jazz group, the Rippingtons. He was raised in Nashville and started playing the guitar at the age of ten under the tutorage of one of his father’s friends who was a Nashville session musician. By the age of sixteen, Russ was also playing sessions. At the age of eighteen, he left Nashville for Los Angeles where his first gigs were playing the background music for Jane Fonda’s workout videos and commercials featuring Anne Murray and Englebert Humperdinck.

In 1986, he formed the Rippingtons, originally conceiving it as a changing lineup of jazz musicians drawn from top session players. The first version featured one of my favorite pianists, David Benoit along with Brandon Fields, Dave Koz, and Kenny G on saxes. By 1993, the band solidified into a six-piece group with Dave Kochanski on keyboards, Jeff Kashiwa on sax, Kim Stone on bass, Tony Morales on drums, Steve Reid on percussion, and of course, Freeman on guitar.

The Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards honored Russ with a Lifetime Achievement Award as well as Producer of the Year in 2001. In 2000, Billboard BET chose the Rippingtons as best group and Oasis gave them the same award for 2001 & 2002. Russ and the Rippingtons are one of the most listenable groups I’ve ever heard and his guitar playing is definitely smooth. Great music to listen to while I work on my consulting projects. Enjoy!

My wife and I got a Groupon to our favorite local restaurant this week and enjoyed a bottle of the 2011 Girard Sauvignon Blanc ($18.00 in stores) with our salmon. I’m a huge fan of Girard wines, particularly their Petite Sirah, but this was the first time I’ve tasted their Sauvignon Blanc. Its aromatics were full of citrus, lemon peel, and a tropical fruits. The taste was a mix of citrus and mango, slightly dry, yet tart. It has a nice softness on the tongue and bright acidity makes for a clean, crisp finish. I can see enjoying a bottle of this when the weather turns warmer as I sit on my deck, watching the stars and listening to Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons.


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