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  • Bryon Harris

Elliott Ranney - 'Bellevue Shuffle'

Based out of Saint Louis, Elliot Ranney is a unique artist who combines elements of Folk and Jazz music while performing finger-style on classical guitar. For our readers who aren’t sure of the difference between an acoustic guitar and a classical guitar, a classical guitar has a wider neck with nylon strings as opposed to steel strings. Ranney, who has been writing and performing for over 40 years, has released two albums: 'An Aging Sailors Dream' (2001, and'Bellevue Shuffle' (2013). In 2012 his album 'An Aging Sailors Dream' was re-released on Rip Curl Records (Tokyo) where it was deemed an ‘Evergreen Classic.’ “Bellevue Shuffle,” the title track off his more recent album, is a great showcase of Ranney’s fine talent and a surefire way to get hooked on his swingin’ tunes.

“Bellevue Shuffle” is performed by a five piece band featuring Jon Ferber - guitar, Christopher Voelker - violin, Stephen Ranney - upright bass, Joe Winters - drums, and Elliott Ranney - classical guitar and whistle. The song begins with a brief one bar classical guitar intro. The intro is comprised of cascading triplets and swinging eighths that lead us gracefully to the first section where the bass and percussion are introduced on the downbeat. From the onset, Elliott’s tone is crystal clear, with just the right amount of warmth, easily cutting through the mix. Ten seconds into the song, a melodic tune is introduced, enhancing the vibe of the shuffle and creating a relaxed mood. The whistled tune, performed by Elliott, is highly melodic and very catchy. As the tune is introduced, the bass holds down the harmonic structure nicely.

Elliott uses call-and-response to maximum effect in this composition, at first between the whistle and lead guitar and then between the whistle and violin. In the first half of the composition, the whistle is responded to by Ferber on lead guitar, creating an engaging and entertaining melodic conversation between the two. Listeners will quickly smile as these two musicians effortlessly play off each other. As the song progresses, the light shines on Ferber’s tasteful and sultry lead guitar playing. The guitar does a great job picking up the carefree vibe of the song – the guitar itself sounds as though it is whistling melodies with ease using scales, arpeggios and harmonies to create intricate lead work. All the while, the drums and upright bass from Stephen and Joe keep the track in the pocket with tight musicianship. Next up, the violin played by Christopher Voelker picks up the melody adding a jazzy-folk-fiddle like texture that gives the piece an earthy, foot tapping touch. Now it’s the violins turn to have a conversation with the whistler before 'Bellevue Shuffle' winds down with hints of the classical guitar re-emerging in the front of the mix.

Bellevue Shuffle presents noteworthy melodic content that is easy to grab onto with surprising splashes of folk that somehow fit perfectly creating a vibe that is both air and earth, jazz-folk fusion at its best. The musicianship on Bellevue Shuffle can’t be denied. These artists are just that – they are the real deal and they know their crafts very well. The album 'Bellevue Shuffle' was inspired by many of Ranney’s influences including Tom Waits, Walter & Donald; Michael Franks/Tom Jobim, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk and will please audience of many genres. “Bellevue Shuffle” is a great example of what you can expect from Ranney’s music and he sets the bar high. Ranney is currently working on a third original album that will be titled, Colors of Autumn. To purchase Ranney’s music, visit CDbaby. For more information regarding Elliot Ranney, visit his website.

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