James Russell Freeman is a jazz guitarist of multiple genres, composer and bandleader born in Galveston, Texas on February 11, 1960.
He studied for a time at UCLA, but remained somewhat obscure before leading the studio-formed Fusion band The Rippingtons. This band once had Kenny G. and David Benoit as members.
Freeman and his manager, Andi Howard, also formed Peak Records together in 1994.
A producer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Freeman also plays bass, keyboards and drums.
The Rippingtons are a contemporary or fusion jazz group that are often considered smooth jazz. Formed in 1986 by guitarist and band leader Russ Freeman (not to be confused with the jazz pianist of the same name), their career has spanned two decades.
In the early to mid 90s they were more of a jazz/rock instrumental band, but since 1999 they have developed more into the Smooth Jazz genre.
The band's mascot is a smiling, sunglasses-wearing, jazzy "hip cat" named Jazz Cat, which appears in the artwork of all the band's releases and on their official website.
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