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Claude Ranger

Claude Ranger

Claude Ranger (drummer, composer, arranger, teacher) was born on Feb 3, 1941 in Montreal, Canada. He studied drums briefly with several teachers and arranging with Frank Mella. Beginning his career with Montréal show bands, he was a leading figure among the city’s jazz musicians by the mid-1960s. He was a sideman to Lee Gagnon (at La Jazztek 1967-9), Pierre Leduc, Ron Proby among others, and the leader of bands heard on the CBC’s “Jazz en liberté.” He was a member 1969-71 of Aquarius Rising with Brian Barley, Michel Donato and Daniel Lessard.

Ranger lived 1972-87 in Toronto, where he was a member of the Moe Koffman Quintet 1978-80 and accompanied Canadian and US musicians – eg, Lenny Breau, George Coleman, Larry Coryell, Sonny Greenwich, James Moody, Doug Riley, the pianist Don Thompson, and Phil Woods – in the city’s clubs. His own bands appeared at the Music Gallery and at Jazz City in 1982, the Festival international de jazz de Montréal (FIJM) in 1982, 1984, and 1986, and the Ottawa International Jazz Festival in 1985. A Ranger quintet was a finalist in the 1986 FIJM, and Ranger received a special jury citation for his drumming.

In 1987 he moved to Vancouver, serving as a mainstay of the du Maurier International Jazz Festival, again as an accompanist to Canadian and US musicians and as a leader of his own groups. West coast musicians Ron Samworth, Clyde Reed, Bruce Freedman and drummer Dylan vander Schyff also influenced Ranger’s career.

Ranger was considered a jazz musician and drummer with natural swing (in the bebop-based tradition of Max Roach), displayed great stamina, and sometimes worked against the grain of jazz in Canada. His ensembles ranged from a trio to the 15-piece (later 19-piece) Jade Orchestra that debuted at the 1990 Vancouver festival. His early compositions (Challenge, Showbar) featured ascending patterns employed as a springboard to free improvisation; his later pieces featured extended themes, and included elements of romanticism and unrestricted improvisation.

Ranger played a role in Canada similar to the one created by Art Blakey in the US – that of a veteran musician whose bands served as an important platform for the development of younger players. His compositions have been recorded by Barley (Le Pingouin), Dr Music (Tickle), and Dave Liebman (Feu Vert). Ranger’s ensembles included saxophonists Ron Allen, Terry Dean, Jane Fair, Rob Frayne, Steve Hall, Kirk MacDonald, and Perry White, trombonist Steve Donald, trumpeter Michael White, cornetist Roland Bourgeois, and bassists Dick Felix, Martin Melançon, and Mike Milligan.

His discography included recordings by Allen, Barley, Breau, Gagnon, Greenwich, Koffman, Riley, Thompson, Jane Bunnett, P.J. Perry, Herb Spanier, Michael Stuart, and the US musicians Dave Liebman (see Thompson), and (Michael) Munoz.

(Photo By: Mark Miller)


Video Clips

“I’ve Found A New Baby”  with Guido Basso(tpt), Moe Koffman(sop), Ian McDougall(b)


“Bossa Nova”  with Zoot Sims(ts), Hank Jones(p), Slam Stewart(b), Bill Bridges(g)