Phillip Arthur Ranelin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana where he grew up under the influence of J.J. Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Earmon Hubbard, Pookie Johnson, Russell Webster, Willis Kirk, Jimmy Coe and Melvin Rhyne. Ranelin is loved and respected around the globe as a master trombonist of the J.J. Johnson tradition, former Freddie Hubbard sideman and as co-founder of Detroit’s famed TRIBE Records. Ranelin has studied and played with some of the most highly respected Jazz and classical educators in the business, including professors David N. Baker, Larry Ridley, Nathan Davis, Bunky Green, Dr. Louis Smith and Donald Byrd with whom in 1976 he received the key to the city of Detroit. Ranelin’s Jazz performance credits include: Norman Connors, Ella Fitzgerald, Art Pepper, Teddy Edwards, Gerald Wilson, Vi Redd, Freddie Redd, Marcus Belgrave, Wendell Harrison, Harold McKinney, Ray Appleton, Roy Brooks, Sarah Vaughan, Larry Gales, Tootie Heath, James Spaulding, the all-star Luckman Jazz Orchestra at the Disney Concert Hall, and Freddie Hubbard with whom in 1981 he appeared on MISTRAL, Japan’s #1 Jazz record of the year.
As a leader, Ranelin has shared the bill with Stanley Clarke, Christian McBride, Les McCann, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Smith, O.C. Smith, Leon Thomas and McCoy Tyner. Ranelin has appeared at many Jazz festivals around the world including the Montreux Jazz Festival, Kool Jazz, Indiana Black Expo, Vera Cruz Muestra International Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Atlantic City Jazz Festival, Montreux Detroit, the Newport and Playboy Jazz Festivals, Jazz At Drew, USC Spectrum LA Jazz, UCLA Jazz & Reggae Festival, The Indy Jazz Fest and the Inaugural Indianapolis Jazz Community Festival. A Los Angeles resident since 1977, 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 several legislative bodies such as Los Angeles City Council, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, California Senate and California Assembly.
Ranelin’s 2001 Juneteenth performance in Pacoima was officially honored by United States Senator Barbara Boxer and on November 30, 2001, performing at Watts Labor Community Action Committee’s Phoenix Hall in tribute to the culmination of John Coltrane’s 75th birthday year, Ranelin was also honored by the United States Congress via California Congresswomen Juanita Millender-McDonald and Maxine Waters with certificates of appreciation for community service and excellence as an artist. Under the banner of The Phil Ranelin Jazz Ensemble, Ranelin has amassed some of the most dynamic musicians in the Los Angeles area: George Harper on saxophone and flute; Nate Morgan, Danny Grissett, William S. Henderson, Donald Vega, Joel Scott, Jane Getz, Llew Matthews, Greg Kirsten and Jeff Babko on keyboards; Ryan Cross, Wendell Williams, John Heard, Henry Franklin, Tony Dumas, James Leary, Nedra Wheeler and Jeff Littleton on bass; Lorca Hart, Don Littleton, Roy McCurdy, Ralph Penland, Carl Burnett, Fritz Wise and Raymond Pounds on trap drums; and Taumbu on congas and percussions. Under the banner of Phil Ranelin & Tribe Renaissance he expanded his group to showcase a 9-piece trombone-led all-star woodwind group (his Los Angeles based configuration patterned after his 1970s Tribe recordings) which has included such greats as George Harper, Ralph “Buzzy” Jones, Michael Session, Keith Fiddmont, Carl Randall, Louis Taylor and Zane Musa – all playing Ranelin compositions and arrangements reminiscent of his Tribe hey-days in Detroit. Ranelin is also proud of his community involvement track-record in Los Angeles. He was 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.