Freeman, Russ and Craig Chaquico - From The Redwoods To The Rockies

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Windham Hill Jazz
Catalog Number: 01934-11380-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:16:00

Being a fan of both Craig Chaquico and Russ Freeman, hearing that these two were collaborating on a project together got me a bit excited. That steely warmth Chaquico gets from his guitar and the richer warmth Freeman gets from his guitar would sound perfect together.

This album doesn't disappoint in that department - the arrangements and the production on this are great. A treat for jazz and contemporary instrumental fans alike. Add in the Paul (Rippingtons) Taylor's soprano sax here and there, David Benoit on piano, as well as Bill (Rippingtons) Heller and Ozzie Ahlers on additional keys (Freeman handles keyboards, bass, drums and percussion as well) and you get a very rich, very warm album.

The album gets its title from the following, an explanation of the theme:

"[A]n ancient legend [of]... a maiden and a warrior from two separate tribes [who were]... in love but were forbidden to see each other ever again... the Great Spirit turned them both into facing mountains, forever connected by the great lakes, rivers and streams that flow between them..."

The opening track ("Riders Of The Ancient Winds") is co-penned by the two, but sounds more like a Chaquico tune. Unfortunately, as great sounding as it is, there are far too many similarities to earlier material. The title track also has a familiar feel to it, but not to Freeman or Chaquico material, but actually to the theme song from the 80's TV series Hill Street Blues ? let's say, rather, that there are phrases that are similar.

"Seattle Child" is Chaquico's tribute to Jimi Hendrix, and while it isn't full of guitar pyrotechnics, it is electrifying anyway. As so often happens with instrumental music, I get a mental image to go along with the music - here is it an imagined travelogue through Hendrix' life, scenes from where he grew up and lived, and the like. It is reverent without being worshiping ? appreciate Hendrix for the musician he was, not for the life he lived. As Chaquico writes in the liner notes: "?dedicated to Al Hendrix, his son, James, and to those we will always love no matter what separates us?" That depth of feeling and warmth is evident here, making this a most beautiful track.

Similarly, "Fallen Heroes" is dedicated by Freeman to Michael Hedges, another stellar composer and guitarist, and to Nick Webb, on part of the acoustic duo Acoustic Alchemy. Both had recently died, and the track is tinged with a bit of wistfulness, a bit of melancholy.

"Tribal Runner" explores some different territory, as we get a bit of southwestern twang a third of the way through. Here the sound is as big and an open as the desert? "Sweetwater" is light and breezy - that drive along the northern California coast, convertible top down and the wind whipping through your hair, as the sun is heading on towards late afternoon.

"Change Of Seasons" shimmers at its opening like a rainy fall day, steadying as we move on into winter snows. Taylor's soprano sax at first sounds like the quiet stillness of the high ranges, but then thaws a bit as spring arrives. Plants are slowly coming to life again, and as they grow, we know summer is just around the corner.

Despite some sense of familiarity, this is a great album, reflecting the respect that Chaquico and Freeman have of each other. Neither dominates the album and each allows the other the freedom to play. For Freeman, it is different from his Rippingtons material and for Chaquico it allows another voice to echo or contrast with his own.


Riders Of The Winds (5:14) / The Maiden And The Warrior (5:23) / From The Redwoods To The Rockies (4:34) / Samba De Luna (5:08) / Seattle Child (4:25) / Tribal Runner (5:12) / Fallen Heroes (4:08) / Sweetwater (4:37) / Change Of Seasons (5:09) / From The Redwoods To The Rockies (acoustic Reprise) (1:06)

Craig Chaquico - guitars
Russ Freeman - guitars, bass, drums, and percussion
David Benoit - Steinway Grand piano (3, 4)
Paul Taylor - soprano sax (2, 9)
Ozzie Ahlers - additional keyboards and percussion (2, 5, 9)
Bill Heller - additional keyboards (1, 8)

Craig Chaquico

Acoustic Highway (1993)
Acoustic Planet (1994)
A Thosand Pictures (1996)
Once In A Blue Universe (1997)
Four Corners (1998)
From The Redwoods To The Rockies (w/Russ Freeman) (1998)
Shadow And Light (2002)
Midnight Noon (2004)
Holiday (2005)

Russ Freeman

Nocturnal Playground (1986)
Rippingtons - Moonlighting (1986)
Rippingtons - Kilimanjaro (1989)
Rippingtons - Tourist in Paradise (1989)
Rippingtons - St. James Club (1990)
Rippingtons - Curves Ahead (1991)
Rippingtons - Weekend in Monaco (1992)
Rippingtons - Live in L.A. (1992)
Rippingtons - Sahara (1994)
Benoit Freeman Project - Benoit Freeman Project (1994)
Rippingtons - Brave New World (1996)
Holiday (1997)
Rippingtons - Black Diamond (1997)
Rippingtons - From the Redwoods to the Rockies (w/Craig Chaquico) (1998)
Rippingtons - Topaz (1999)
Rippingtons - Life In The Tropics (2000)
Drive (2002)
Rippingtons - Live Across America (2002)
Rippingtons - Let It Ripp (2003)
Rippingtons - Wild Card (2005)

Genre: Jazz-Trad. Jazz

Origin US

Added: December 13th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1114
Language: english


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