Pianist/clarinetist/composer/arranger Tom Ranier is one of Southern California’s top jazz improvisers, a musician both technically resplendent and emotionally open. At the keyboard, he reveals an increasingly personal style that bears the influence of Oscar Peterson’s bravura and bluesiness, Chick Corea’s at once intricate and beautiful melodies, and Bill Evans’s chordal brilliance.
Ranier was born in Chicago on July 13, 1949. He moved with his family to Garden Grove, in Southern California’s Orange County. He remembers being charmed by clarinetist Goodman’s records at age six or seven. He took up piano at age ten, studying the classical regimen, then added clarinet at age 12. Ranier says he didn’t pursue a concert piano career because, After hearing Benny, I always wanted to play jazz.
While a student at Santiago High School in Garden Grove, Ranier worked with his father on gigs, and studied arranging with the noted writer Jack Daugherty, whose A&M album, Class of ’71, was a jazz cult classic. Then Ranier moved on to Cal State Fullerton, where he received a B.A. in Composition in 1972.
Slowly, surely, Ranier established a reputation as a solid jazzman with performances with vibist Dave Pike, saxman Pete Christlieb, a band he co-led with drummer Sherman Ferguson and bassist John Heard, and many others. In 1975, he recorded for Warner Bros., and in the early ’80s, for the First American label. Lately, he’s worked with the Terry Gibbs-Buddy DeFranco Sextet, George Coleman, and Lew Tabackin, and recorded with altoist Lanny Morgan
Ranier has also long been a primary member of the Southern California studio scene. Among his recent activities include performing on the film scores to Forrest Gump and Space Jam (with Michael Jordan), TV soundtracks to Diagnosis Murder with Dick Van Dyke, and singer Natalie Cole’s latest album Stardust. If not performing, practicing, or writing, Ranier is likely to be found at U.C.L.A., where he’s a part of the new Jazz Studies program headed by guitarist Kenny Burrell, and teaches jazz piano and jazz theory.
Tom Ranier, comp., (ASCAP) – Keyboards
Jimmy Johnson – Electric Bass
John Abercrobmiie – Electric Guitar
Peter Donald – Acoustic and Electronic Drums