Born: July 7, 1926 | Died: June 22, 1987 Primary Instrument: Trombone
Rehak, one of the finest bop players of the fifties and sixties, first came to fame in 1949, when he joined Gene Krupa’s Orchestra along with fellow trombonist Frank Rosolino.
Besides from having stints with the Woody Herman Big Band in the mid 50s, his most famous job came when he became a trombonist with Gil Evans’ Band in the late 50s. During this time he was the lead trombonist on many of Miles Davis’ recordings with the Gil Evans Orchestra and also appeared on The Sounds of Miles Davis, a television program that showcased the music from Kind of Blue (1959), as well as original compositions and arrangements by Gil Evans.
He was also a top call musician for many other studio sessions of the day such as when Michel Legrand put together a band and also when Art Blakey formed an all star band. Although he was a top call sideman, his only session as a leader resulted in one solo record on Jazzville Vol. 2. In 1958, he recorded with Melba Liston and other trombone ultimates on her classic, Melba Liston and Her 'Bones. John Cage composed the Solo for Sliding Trombone part to his Concert for Piano and Orchestra specifically for Rehak.
As a player, Rehak was noted for his highly developed sight reading ability, and the smoothness of his playing which few others could match. He was also noted for his control in the upper register, and for his ability to switch styles easily.
Unfortunately, his heroin addiction got in the way of his playing, and he was forced to withdraw from playing all together. In 1969, he entered Synanon to kick his heroin addiction for the last time. Although he never again got back into the studios, he did record some with his fellow friend and musician Doug Robinson, who was the last person to ever record him. Rehak died in 1987 from cancer.
Doug Robinson Recalls
Making this album gave me one last chance to play with my mentor and friend of 15 years, trombone legend Frank Rehak. I met Frank in 1969 when he entered Synanon to kick his heroin habit for the last time. I was 14, and seeing him in such terrible shape made a big impression on me.
Once he cleaned up, he took me under his wing and began to pass on his vast knowledge about everything musical. We recorded many times together, mostly on Synanon’s primitive multi-track recording equipment.
In 1986, Frank was battling cancer of the esophogaus. We both wanted to get his sound on tape one last time, but day after day, he would show up too wiped out to do anything more than put together his horn and blow a couple of notes.
But one night he said “Be ready-- tomorrow is the day.” I went to my studio and composed a song about his wild life called Man With The Horn. He arrived bright and early-- I suspect he simply didn’t take his medication that day. He listened to the song once, gave a hearty laugh and ripped off a beautiful, lyrical solo. Although we had 6 more months of hanging out together, that was the last I ever heard him play.
After his death, I gave the song to his wife, Sandy, and only played the tracks for our friends and other trombonists who wanted to hear anything by Frank. But in 1997, I isolated his horn and re-recorded the rhythm track (the old ones were just cheesy midi tracks), and augmented the arrangement with our mutual friends and bandmates David Scott and Bruce Gilbert on saxes. The result is track 13 on Plays Well With Others, and I hope it is a fitting tribute to this generous man and his outstanding music.
Gil Evans 14 Piece Band Bird Feathers
Miles Davis Concierto de Aranjuez
Miles Davis Gone
Miles Davis and the Gil Evans Orchestra.
Bob Brookmeyer and His Orchestra Portrait of the Artist
Gene Quill Three Bones and a Quill
Don Elliot Octet & Sextette Jamaica Jazz + Musical Offering
Bill Potts The Jazz Soul of Porgy & Bess
Frank Rehak Sextet and Alex Smith Quintet Jazzville Vol. 2
Manny Albam Something New Something Blue
Pacific Standard Time by Gil Evans, Art Blakey, Curtis Fuller, Cannonball Adderley, and Steve Lacy
Andre Previn The Previn Scene
Johnny Richards, Hank Jones Wide Range
Creed Taylor Orchestra Lonleyville : The Nervous Beat
Al Cohn COHN On the Saxophone
Doug Robinson Plays Well With Others
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