The ultimate contemporary jazz hyphenate Russ Freeman (guitarist/arranger/producer/keyboardist/composer) became one of smooth jazz's most influential artists through magnificent projects like this one, chosen by Jazziz as the best contemporary jazz album of all time. This third Ripps release is a masterpiece of mouthwatering pop-jazz tunes, featuring strong hooks, gorgeous texturing, and styles ranging from tropical (the sunny "Aruba" featuring Rob Mullins on keys and Carl Anderson scatting away) and Brazilian ("One Summer Night in Brazil," Freeman's lush centerpiece) to soulful (a cover of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together") and rockin' (the locomotive "Earthbound," which shows Freeman's strings at their frenzied peak). But there's more to the tourist story -- there's also the bounce of bassist Steve Bailey, the boom of drummer Tony Morales, and the light exoticism of Steve Reid's soundscapes. The Rippingtons hit more peaks than valleys as the '90s unfolded, and Freeman expanded his scope beyond simple pop-jazz, but this one still sets the standard for smooth jazz.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran