Wild Card, which debuted number one on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart last month, delivers a warm and soulful mix of Latin and Contemporary Jazz.
I saw a preview of this Latin feel from Russ Freeman in the Rippingtons’ recording of “Life in the Tropics” in 2000. On Wild Card, he has delivered a full CD of songs that are heavy on the exotic salsa influences.
The CD opens with “Gypsy Eyes.” The heavy percussion opening sets up the feel for everything that is to come. The song quickly explodes into a full, rich, tropical melody which makes it a definite highlight of the album. Other songs just as outstanding and in the same vein are “El Vacilon,” “Mulata de Mi Amor,” and “King of Hearts.”
Another high point of this collection is guest vocalist Chante Moore (Her previous recordings include This Moment is Mine, and Exposed). Her vocals add a spice to the collection that accentuates and enhances the horns, especially on “Mulata de Mi Amor.”
As “Gypsy Eyes” was a perfect upbeat opening to the CD, “In the End” rounds off the collection just as magnificently. It opens with Freeman on classical guitar and is a slow soft ballad, while staying true to the Latin influences on the rest of the CD.
The Rippingtons’ Wild Card, available on Peak Records, would be a wonderful addition to any Jazz lover’s collection and a special treat to anyone who also enjoys Salsa and Latin music.