Phil Ranelin: Infinite Expressions (ORG Music, 2021)

January 27, 2022 at 6:55 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Phil Ranelin: Infinite Expressions

82-year-old trombonist Phil Ranelin, founder of Detroit’s legendary Tribe collective, recorded his latest album in September 2020 after several months of pandemic-induced isolation. It took some effort and soul searching to be able to work with other musicians again, but it was worth it, as this session clearly shows. The title of the first song namechecks Eric Dolphy as a guiding inspiration, and it continues in that adventurous realm. The recording sounds live and spontaneous, with Ranelin’s trombone perhaps a little distanced in the mix, or perhaps he’s not playing as loudly as some of the other musicians. Carlos Niño contributes fluttering, sparkling percussion alongside Andre Beasley’s drumming, while Hideaki Tokunaga plays nuanced electric and acoustic guitars and Michael Alvidrez and Ian Martin play acoustic bass on certain tracks. “Infinite Expressions” eventually gets the furthest out, while “In the Time Being” feels more relaxed, intimate, and acoustic, but not mellow. “In Time with the Times” is a more abstract, amorphous 15-minute suite, while the more compact “Blues for Paula” has more of a ragged New Orleans swing to it. “Weaver of Dreams” is a short, ruminative solo piece, and then “One More Blues” is a peppy solo melody that’s barely 30 seconds long.

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