Cahl's Juke Joint

Friday, May 20, 2011

  • A photo of the cover of the Wide HIve release, Perseverence by Phil Ranelin.
  • “In Search of the One,” the first song on trombonist Phil Ranelin’s new album, “Perseverance,” could easily have been called “Echoes of Miles.” It’s not that Ranelin apes Miles Davis’ music. Not even close. But he plays with a restrained elegance, just as Miles did. And on the Latin-flavored “In Search of the One,” which would have fit seamlessly on “Sketches of Spain,” Ranelin’s trombone adds some earthy grit to the beauty of the melody.

    Ranelin and his band sound reflective, spiritual even, on “Within Her Smile,” a gorgeous tune. They bounce through “Mystic Destiny,” another excellent song. But “Black Destiny” might be the most interesting track on the album. On it, Ranelin, percussionist Big Black, bassist Henry Franklin, pianist Mahesh Balasooriya, saxophonist Kamasi Washington and drummer Tony Austin all seem to start from different points. As a result, the tune’s a cacophonic whirlwind that swirls into a cool groove of disparate sounds.

    I don’t know whether “Perseverance” is Ranelin’s finest album ever — he’s had so many great ones. It is without a doubt, though, the best new jazz album I’ve heard this year. -- By Carl Abernathy

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