Trombonist, Composer, Arranger, Band Leader, Producer, Educator
Phil Ranelin's music seeks to raise the spiritual consciousness of his audiences. His technical mastery of the slide trombone is in the J.J. Johnson tradition and expands into calls of nature, the human voice and futuristic techno sounds. Ranelin was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. He grew up with childhood friend, Freddie Hubbard, and performed on four of Hubbard’s albums including the 1980 album, MISTRAL, Japan’s #1 Jazz record of the year. He is loved and respected around the globe as a diehard, straight-ahead trombonist , former Freddie Hubbard sideman and as co-founder of Detroit’s famed TRIBE Records.
Ranelin has studied and played with some of the most highly respected Jazz and classical educators in the business, including professors David N. Baker, Nathan Davis, Bunky Green, Larry Ridley, Dr. Louis Smith and Donald Byrd (with whom in 1976 he received the key to the city of Detroit). Ranelin’s Jazz performance credits include: Marcus Belgrave, Roy Brooks, Norman Connors, Teddy Edwards, Ella Fitzgerald, Tootie Heath, Harold McKinney, Art Pepper, Freddie Redd, Vi Redd, James Spaulding, Sarah Vaughan, Gerald Wilson and Freddie Hubbard. As a leader, Ranelin has shared the bill with Stanley Clarke, Christian McBride, Les McCann, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Smith, O.C. Smith, Leon Thomas and McCoy Tyner.
Ranelin has appeared at many Jazz festivals around the world, including the North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Vera Cruz Muestra International Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Atlantic City Jazz Festival, Montreux Detroit, Kool Jazz, Indiana Black Expo, the Newport Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Jazz At Drew, USC Spectrum LA Jazz, the UCLA Jazz & Reggae Festival and The World Stage Jazz Festival. In addition to Phil’s Jazz credits, from the 1960’s through the 1980’s, Ranelin’s trombone was part of numerous R&B, Blues and Pop groups, including, The Staple Singers, James Brown, Joe Simon, Teddy Pendergrass, B.B. King, Bootsey’s Rubber Band and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
From 1969 through 1974, Ranelin worked at Detroit’s Motown Records both as a tour musician and studio musician, touring and/or recording with Michael Jackson, The Jackson Five, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Diana Ross & the Supremes, and Stevie Wonder. A Los Angeles resident since 1977, Ranelin has been designated by official resolutions as a “Rare and Valuable Cultural Treasure” and “Cultural Ambassador” by several legislative bodies.
Beside his own group, Ranelin has been a regular member of the Taumbu International Ensemble, the Horace Tapscott Sextet and the Pan Afrikan Peoples’ Arkestra of the 1980’s and 90’s,. in 2010 his diverse musical track record in Los Angeles became more evident when he collaborated with Producer/Artist, Madlib. He continues to perform with Build An Ark and The Luckman Jazz Orchestra at California State University, Los Angeles, under conductor Charles Owens. Ranelin is also proud of the fact that his Eric Dolphy 75th Memorial Birthday Tribute at William Grant Still Arts Center, spearheaded the successful 2-year community movement that resulted in the naming of a 5-million dollar building after Dolphy at Denker Recreation Center.
Ranelin’s discography is extensive. Clint Eastwood produced MONTEREY JAZZ: 40 LEGENDARY YEARS (Warner Brothers 1997) which included Freddie Hubbard’s 1980 performance featuring Ranelin on trombone. Another compilation featuring Johnny Coles, Eddie Harris, Eddie Henderson, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw and Tom Harrell also features one of Ranelin’s original compositions, “Ya' Know What I Mean,” the final cut from A CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE VERY BEST KIND. In 2002 Phil Ranelin received the ‘‘People’s Choice Best Jazz Artist” award at the LA Weekly Music Awards. The next year A CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE VERY BEST KIND ranked #10 in the Billboard CD reviews. 2004 marked the release of his San Francisco-based Wide Hive Records, INSPIRATION. This debut recording of Phil Ranelin & Tribe Renaissance (his 9-piece group) features all Ranelin originals composed in homage to John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson and Horace Tapscott. In 2005 Phil Ranelin was again honored at the LA Weekly Music Awards as “Critics’ Choice Best Jazz Artist of the Year.”
Ranelin’s successful bid as a 2006-2007 City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Individual Artist Fellow afforded him the opportunity to focus on composing an extended work dedicated to legendary lady trombonist Melba Liston, entitled “Sweets For Melba,” which debuted May 25, 2007, at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre.
In 2008, the month of February, Ranelin co-produced a series of performances featuring the Phil Ranelin Jazz Ensemble performing each Friday in February in honor of African American History Month, saluting West Coast Jazz legends: Dexter Gordon, Eric Dolphy, J.J. Johnson, Hampton Hawes and Melba Liston.
Ranelin had three CD releases in 2009. REBIRTH brought together some of his 1970s Detroit cohorts, Marcus Belgrave, Wendell Harrison and Doug Hammond; Living A New Day brought together some of his San Francisco musical connections; and REMINISCENCE is a second Phil Ranelin & Tribe Renaissance CD which documents live performances of 18 musicians out of the Leimert Park area playing Ranelin’s music and arrangements for his 9-piece group from 2002 to 2005. His most recent album, PERSEVERANCE (2011, Wide Hive), is receiving much airplay and rave reviews.
On December 2, 2009, The Phil Ranelin Jazz Ensemble performed at the Guadalajara International Book Fair, as part of the City of Los Angeles' Guest of Honor delegation to an audience of 7,000 roaring fans. In 2011 he received a Cultural Exchange International grant from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs to go to Panama as a three-week artist-in-residence, City of Los Angeles Cultural Ambassador to perform and conduct “Who is Eric Dolphy? Jazz Appreciation Workshops” to inform Panamanians of Dolphy’s paternal Panamanian heritage. Upon his return, he also received a Center for Cultural Innovation, Artist Resource for Completion (ARC) grant to bring legendary saxophonist Carlos Garnett from Panama to Los Angeles to perform with Phil Ranelin & Tribe Renaissance in honor of Eric Dolphy Day as designatged throughout the State of California and the City and County of Los Angeles.. Visit: www.ranelin.com