From his work on the Grammys, Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes and “Dancing with the Stars” through stints recording with pop, jazz and opera legends (Barbra Streisand, Terry Gibbs, Placido Domingo), veteran composer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Ranier is one of those behind the scenes guys who is usually too busy to focus on his own recordings.
Aside from his catchy, lighthearted melodies and the unique way he builds emotional momentum over the expanse of a song (Exhibits A and B, the constantly inventive 7-plus minute opening tracks “Blue Aria” and “Circle”), perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Ranier’s artistry is the array of instruments he displays mastery of throughout. As he treats us to his elegant, free-flowing piano and occasional flights of fancy on synth, he creates the dynamic horn sections on “Secret Heart” and ‘Desafinado” and the funky, urban jazz flavored “This Way” via texturing of his own soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes. The Jobim tune also features a “soli” where he showcases his bass, eb and contra alto clarinets.
With enough studio magic, he could keep This Way a one man band effort – but thankfully, he allows his quartet of bassist Trey Henry, guitarist Thom Rotella and drummer Ralph Humphrey (the inspiration behind the bright, samba flavored “Yes Kloose”) shimmering spotlights of their own. An accomplished photographer, Ranier is a storyteller at heart, creating narratives that individually and collectively take us on a fascinating journey. When he tells us to go “This Way,” we best listen.