Tom Ranier was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Louis Ranier and Margaret “Peggy” Ranier (née Uphoff) on July 13, 1949. Lou Ranier worked as a clarinetist, saxophonist, and photographer. The family moved to Southern California in 1955, settling in the Orange County community of Garden Grove.
Tom began studying piano at age 10 with Craig Rees and clarinet at age 12 with Lou as his instructor. At age 16, he began his studies in composition with Jack Daugherty. Tom studied classical piano and won numerous competitions, including the Young Artists’ Guild. With Lou, he studied jazz and commercial music.
While in high school, Tom played dances and club dates with his dad. After high school, he enrolled in California State University, Fullerton. Tom supported himself playing clubs and casuals. At this time, he also started working at Disneyland as a musician playing various shows.
Tom graduated from college in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in Music Composition.
After college, Tom played with various local jazz groups. He recorded with vibraphonist Dave Pike and Rod McKuen and toured with Carmen McRae, Joey Bishop, Helen Reddy, and Donna Summer.
After leaving the road in 1978, Tom returned to Disneyland and stayed until 1985. He recorded with Milt Jackson and Ray Brown and worked with a variety of jazz artists. It was during this period, that Tom began to work in the LA studios as a keyboardist.
Albums & Studio Work
In 1981, Tom, John Heard, and Sherman Ferguson formed the trio Heard, Ranier, Ferguson. The group produced an eponymous album in 1982.
In 1975, Tom recorded his first solo album, “Ranier,” featuring Frank Rosolino and, in 1979, he recorded his second album, “Night Music.”
Tom became a full-time studio player in 1985. He has worked on television shows such as “Moonlighting,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Star Trek: Enterprise,” and “Family Guy,” and on films, including “Forest Gump,” “Ted,” and “Frozen.” He recorded and toured with Barbra Streisand for her millennium concert series and is frequently a member of the Academy Awards orchestra.
Throughout his studio career, Tom has continued to play and record jazz. In 1997, he recorded his third album, “In the Still of the Night.” Tom was part of the trio 3prime, featuring Peter Donald on drums and Abraham Laboriel on bass. 3prime produced one album, “Live at Rocco’s,” in 2001.
From 2005 to 2013, Tom was a keyboardist and an arranger for the television show, “Dancing with the Stars.” He has been a full-time member of the orchestra for “The Simpsons” since 2011.
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