Phil Ranelin

The Time Is Now!

P-Vine • 1974

There are few records in the long history of jazz that thrust you into the action as abruptly as Phil Ranelin’s solo debut. The start of the album doesn’t contain a single word, not even an intro, as if he wants to make it clear in the first few seconds that »The Time is Now For Change«. Instead: a piano that plays in loops, committed to percussive strokes. Today, it reminds us of the wobbly synth lines on some of the most ambitious dance records by journeymen such as London Joe. But more atonal and as a continuous ostinato. There are also swirling jingles and other players who gradually join in.  

This twelve-minute opening piece is a cohesive masterpiece in itself, but it is merely the prelude, as it were, to the avant-garde jazz record inspired, composed and arranged by Phil Ranelin in 1974. Whereby the composition’s contribution is comparatively small. You immediately feel reminded of the old bon mot »improvisation is composition in real time«. Out of all the chaos and successful off-tones, something very natural emerges, a sound that is at peace with the spirits. »The Time Is Now« is the manifesto of the artists’ association and label »Tribe«, which Phil Ranelin founded with Wendell Harrison in 1972: Spirituality, freedom in play, focus on art and away from the myth of the artist.