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Phil Ranelin: Inspiration

Dan McClenaghan By

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Trombonist Phil Ranelin has worked sessions with Motown acts Stevie Wonder and the Temptations. That should be resume enough. If it isn't, he's also played with jazz men Freddie Hubbard, Wes Montgomery, Raahsan Roland Kirk, and Grant Green, just to name a few.

Inspiration finds the trombonist fronting a nonet with four multiple reedmen in the mix, on a spirited mainstream session that features four standout guest slots, most notably tenor sax man Pharoah Sanders on "This One's for Trane" (more later).

The four reeds lay down silken harmonies in arrangements that always seem to include at least one flute, giving the sound a silvery sheen as it blends with the alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, and the occasional bass clarinet.

Ranelin has a succinct trombone tone, tangy in the higher register, almost French horn-like. The big brass horn in front of the shimmering backdrop makes for an unusual sound, an appealing light/heavy contrast.

For his Inspiration the hornman draws upon, in separate tunes, the sounds of Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson, Horace Silver, John Coltrane, and Eric Dolphy.

On "One for Trane" Ranelin brings tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who blows the most inspired solo on this disc. The song brings John Coltrane's early sixties sets on Impulse! to mind, with some floating world beat percussion in the mix; and again, Pharoah Sanders blowing like he's truly feeling the spirit of Trane.

Particularly fine also is the three-part Eric Dolphy set: "Shades of Dolphy," "Spirit of Dolphy," and "Shades of Dolphy (encore)." The small suite gets into more of a groove than late reedman ususally did, but very nicely so, with that percussion—by Taumbu—that adds a dash of the exotic to the sound.


Track Listing: Freddie's Groove, HT's Waltz, One for Johnson, This One's for Trane, Horace's Scope, Black on the Nu, Beyond Memory, Shades of Dolphy, Spirit of Dolphy, Shades of Dolphy (encore)

Personnel: Phil Ranelin--trombone, cowbell, vocal; Keith Fiddmont, George Harper Jr., Zane Muse, Louis Van Taylor--reeds; Danny Grissett--piano; Jeff Littleton--bass; Lorca Hart--drums; Taumbu--percussion

Title: Inspiration | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Wide Hive Records


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