Rippingtons’ Rx Includes Keeping Healthy Attitude : Jazz: If music is therapeutic, it’s ‘a way to give something back in return for the success we’ve had,’ Russ Freeman says.


Russ Freeman & the Rippingtons have cruised the length and breadth of contemporary jazz.

The group’s seventh album, “Sahara,” has sold more than 300,000 copies; they’ve just returned from a tour of Southeast Asia, and guitarist Freeman, who founded the ensemble in 1988, has a solo album of holiday music due later this year.

So what else is new? Well, how about Rippingtons tunes as music therapy?

It may be hard to believe that the quintet’s crisp, rhythmic instrumental music could make listeners want to do anything other than get up and boogie, but the group has been generating some surprising reactions.

“It all started,” Freeman said, “when we got a letter from someone whose fiancee had been in a coma after a car accident. The guy wanted to thank us for our music, because he believed that it had been of some benefit in helping her recover.


“Then we got another letter from a lady who had an autistic child who couldn’t listen to music and who all of a sudden was able to listen to Rippingtons music.”

Deciding there was “some kind of pattern there,” Freeman got in touch with a music therapy group to do a little research and discovered that “all kinds of music can have therapeutic effects.”

“They haven’t been able to tell us what it is about Rippingtons music that has this effect,” he added, “but we’re just delighted that it does. It feels like it’s a way to give something back in return for the success we’ve had. And it’s motivated me to start going into hospitals and recovery units to play guitar for the patients.”

There’s no telling what responses the Rippingtons will generate when they perform tonight and Saturday at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. But there’s no doubt that the music will be melodic and upbeat--the Rippingtons’ stock in trade.

“We’re in great shape,” Freeman said. “Our Southeast Asia tour was a terrific experience. Although we’d never been there before, the audiences knew our tunes and had our albums. And when you get that kind of reaction, it really helps take the music up another level.

“But it’s great to be back in L.A. too. And we’ll go into Cerritos without much of a plan, except to play the best music we’ve got. I don’t know if it’ll be therapy or not, but I’ll guarantee it’ll be fun.”


* Russ Freeman & the Rippingtons and guitarist Earl Klugh play tonight and Saturday at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. 8 p.m. $27 to $36. (800) 300-4345.