There are two Russ Freemans. 1) A smooth jazz guitarist. 2) A West Coast cool jazz pianist. 1) Though his name seems fairly unknown outside the realm of contemporary/smooth jazz, James Russell was born February 11, 1960. Freeman has been displaying his many talents in a prolific manner for nearly two decades. Primarily known for his guitar work (and his production/recording wizardry) Russ is the force behind The Rippingtons, a contemporary-jazz group that has counted many of the genre's elite among its members: David Benoit, Steve Reid, Tony Morales, Kenny G., and many others.