The Angel City Jazz Festival will open its 5th annual season at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art at 6:00pm on Friday October 5 with a free outdoor concert featuring the winner of the Angel City Jazz Young Artists Competition followed at 7:00pm by a set from noted trombonist Phil Ranelin’s Jazz Ensemble. The 2012 Angel City Jazz Festival is co-presented by The Jazz Bakery, and the theme for the 2012 festival is “Artists & Legends,” with influential artists sharing the stage with their legendary mentors.
Having the winner of Angel City Jazz Young Artists Competition open the festival at LACMA is a new tradition now in its second year. The competition is an avenue for young jazz musicians in the Los Angeles area to create and collaborate with one another in an effort to expand upon the traditional concepts of jazz and improvisation. In line with the theme of the 2012 Angel City Jazz Festival “Artists & Legends,” the competition will give young musicians the opportunity to have their original music heard and evaluated by working jazz professionals. Submissions for the competition will be accepted until August 31, 2012, and four finalists will be announced on September 9, 2012.
Competition finalists will perform a 30 minute set at noted Los Angeles jazz club Blue Whale on September 15, 2012. In addition to the prestigious LACMA gig, a $1000 cash prize will be awarded to the winner. Competition rules are available at http://angelcityarts.org/young-artists-competition.
Ranelin is joined on this Angel City Jazz Festival date by a stellar ensemble including Mahesh Balasooriya on piano, Pablo Calogero on reeds, Randal Fisher on tenor sax, Trevor Ware on bass and Don Littleton on drums.
Trombonist Phil Ranelin was one of the Detroit jazz scene’s heroes, releasing several excellent, politicized albums that blended post-Coltrane avant-garde jazz, post-Bitches Brew psychedelia, hard bop, funk, and African rhythms. Born and raised in Indianapolis, and later moved to New York and then Detroit, Ranelin started out as a session man for Motown artists including Stevie Wonder. In 1971, along with saxophonist Wendell Harrison, Ranelin co-founded a band, magazine, and record label conglomeration known as the Tribe, which used experimental jazz as a vehicle to raise African-American political consciousness. That year, Ranelin also issued his first album as a leader, Message from the Tribe. The Time Is Now! continued Ranelin’s accessible avant leanings in 1974, but 1976’s Vibes From the Tribe pushed more firmly into groovy jazz-funk territory.
The Tribe organization folded in 1978, after Ranelin moved to Los Angeles to play with Freddie Hubbard. Ranelin’s jazz performance credits also include Ella Fitzgerald, Art Pepper, and Sarah Vaughan. As a leader, Ranelin has shared the bill with Stanley Clarke, Christian McBride, Les McCann, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and more. Ranelin has appeared at many jazz festivals around the world including Montreux, Montreux Detroit, Newport, Playboy and the UCLA Jazz & Reggae Festival among many others.
As a Los Angeles resident, Ranelin has been designated by official resolutions as a “Rare and Valuable Cultural Treasure” and as a “Cultural Ambassador throughout the Nation and to the world audience” by the Los Angeles City Council, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, California Senate and California Assembly. Ranelin’s 2001 Juneteenth performance was officially honored by United States Senator Barbara Boxer and his November 30, 2001, performance at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee’s Phoenix Hall tribute to John Coltrane’s 75th birthday year, Ranelin was honored by the United States Congress via Congresswomen Juanita Millender-McDonald and Maxine Waters with certificates of appreciation for community service and excellence as an artist.
In 1986, Ranelin led a date for Rebirth titled Love Dream, and ten years later released the self-produced album A Close Encounter of the Very Best Kind – which featured his new Los Angeles-based sextet – on Lifeforce. Though Ranelin’s albums didn’t get much exposure they found their way onto the acid jazz/rare-groove collector’s market, creating an underground buzz around Ranelin’s music. In 2001, Tortoise drummer John McEntire remixed and remastered The Time Is Now! and Vibes From the Tribe, which were reissued by the Hefty label. The following year, an electronic collection was released with remixes by Prefuse 73, Jan Jelinek, Morgan Geist, El-P, Telefon Tel Aviv and more.
In LA Ranelin became a member of the large Los Angeles-based multi-generational trans-cultural spiritual jazz unit Build an Ark, whose constant members include Derf Reklaw, Dwight Trible, Carlos Niño, and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and others. That group released four albums between 2004 and 2010 on Kindred Spirits. He was also part of the Horace Tapscott Sextet, The Pan Afrikan Peoples’ Arkestra, the Michael Session Sextet and The Taumbu International Ensemble. In 2002 Ranelin was nominated as The People’s Choice Best Jazz Artist of the Year in the LA Weekly Music Awards.
Ranelin also found time to tour, join Carl Craig on his Detroit Experiment album, and record three sets of his own for Wide Hive during the same period: Inspiration (2004), Reminiscence: Live! (2006), and Living a New Day (2009). At the request of Craig, Ranelin reunited with the remaining living members of the Tribe (Wendell Harrison and Marcus Belgrave) for a one-off Detroit gig and the Craig-produced Rebirth long-player on Planet E, was issued in 2009. Ranelin resumed his career as a leader with 2011’s Perserverence on Wide Hive, in collaboration with bassist Henry “The Skipper” Franklin and legendary percussionist Big Black.