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Tom Ranier: This Way

Dan McClenaghan By

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Tom Ranier: This Way
The versatile multi-instrumentalist Tom Ranier has enjoyed a busy career, playing pop styles, electronic music and jazz. Prolific as a collaborator—Terry Gibbs, George Coleman, Placido Domingo—he also boasts a grounding in classical music. This Way features Rainier playing mostly his own compositions on piano, synthesizers, saxophones and clarinets, with some help from his friends, guitarist Thom Rotella, bassist Trey Henry and drummer Ralph Humphrey.

On this, his first recording under his own name since Bright Idea (Primrose Lane, 2007), he has crafted a polished sound, a sort of piano trio spiced with understated synth and reed orchestration soundscaping. In the fashion of fellow pianist/orchestrator Bob James, Ranier's art is meticulously constructed, seamless and beautifully accessible, from the opener, his own lush "Blue Aria," to the closer, Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Desafinado," all laid down with a crisp precision.

The smooth and pensive "Circle" showcases Ranier's delicate and alluring piano touch and, perhaps, his classical grounding, while the title tune gets into a Brecker Brothers-like dance groove. "Secret Heart," written by trumpeter Randy Brecker and pianist Eliane Elias, is a tribute to the late saxophonist Michael Brecker. Ranier re-works the tune, arranging it for soprano sax, three clarinets and bass clarinet, shaping it into a work of jaw-dropping beauty.

With the exception of "Desafinado," the closer, the sound of This Way has a suite-like cohesion, while the Jobim sends us off on a gregarious and hopeful note.

Track Listing

Blue Aria; Circle; This Way; Yes Kloose; Secret Heart; Trio Vision; Rhapsody; Desafinado.

Personnel

Tom Ranier: piano; Trey Henry: bass; Ralph Humphrey: drums; Thom Rotella: guitar.

Tom Ranier: piano, synthesizer, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinets, bass clarinet, contra alto clarinet.

Album information

Title: This Way | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Self Produced

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