356

Phil Ranelin: Inspiration

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
While he started out as a Motown session player, trombonist Phil Ranelin left that behind in the '70s, instead pursuing a style that blended post-Coltrane post bop with Afro-Cuban rhythms and harmonies. With Inspiration , Ranelin delivers an album firmly planted in these traditions, paying tribute to a number of his influences and past collaborators, including Freddie Hubbard, Horace Silver, Eric Dolphy and, of course, Coltrane.

Ranelin's nonet combines saxophones, bass clarinet and, on occasion, flutes, to create a rich horn section that blends beautifully with Ranelin's warm trombone. By eschewing the inclusion of more top-heavy trumpets, his brass section avoids the brashness often found in larger ensembles. Still, that doesn't stop Ranelin's arrangements from being absolutely vibrant; his arrangements jump off the page and out of the speakers in an adventurous yet compelling way that is reverent to their sources yet has a vibe all its own. Owing more to the sound of the '60s Impulse! recordings than the more often-emulated Blue Note records of the same time period, Ranelin aims for a more cluttered dense ambience that still manages to be completely accessible.

His trombone playing has never been better. With adventurous ideas and a lush tone that is never brash, Ranelin's solos are soulful, melodic and, at the same time, a little curious, occasionally heading outwards yet never losing site of the material's essence. Tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders guests, appropriately, on "This One's for Trane," and his distinctive, harmonics-laden sound brings back clear memories of Coltrane, over the modal backdrop of rhythm section team Danny Grissett on piano, bassist Jeff Littleton, drummer Lorca Hart and percussionist Taumbu.

And while the influence of Coltrane's modal vamps is evident, so too is a strong sense of swing. "Horace's Scope" and "Spirit of Dolphy" both move at a clip, challenging the soloists to keep up. "HT's Waltz," an early respite from the generally high energy of the record, finds Ranelin playing over a rich combination of reeds and flutes. The only real misstep of an otherwise outstanding collection is "Beyond a Memory," where Ranelin's vocals and lyrics, while serviceable, are on the pedestrian side, which is a shame as the tune itself is solid, with a strong solo by Wendell Harrison, who collaborated with Ranelin in Stevie Wonder's band in the '70s.

Still, one misfire is not enough to detract from an energetic and passionate set that demonstrates Ranelin's strong abilities as a player, writer and arranger. Inspiration clearly refers to Ranelin's many influences, but it also alludes to a deeper spiritual connection that pervades this immensely satisfying set.

Visit Phil Ranelin on the web.


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


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Way of It CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Tag Book CD/LP/Track Review Tag Book
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Hide Ye Idols CD/LP/Track Review Hide Ye Idols
by Troy Collins
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Spavati, Mozda Sanjati CD/LP/Track Review Spavati, Mozda Sanjati
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Paris" CD/LP/Track Review Paris
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Morphogenesis" CD/LP/Track Review Morphogenesis
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Live with a Boom" CD/LP/Track Review Live with a Boom
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "WashAshore" CD/LP/Track Review WashAshore
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 30, 2017
Read "Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath II" CD/LP/Track Review Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath II
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor