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Take Five With...

Take Five With Rahe

By Published: October 18, 2011
Your dream band:
To be honest, it doesn't get any better than my co-musical director/horn arranger and killer alto saxophonist Nadar Nihal Singh Khalsa—he truly is a dream to work with. The drummer in my group, Adam Ackermann, is also amazing. Yes, I'm spoiled. But hey, as long as I'm dreaming (and could reach into the other side), Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
1927 - 2004
drums
would be my ideal. If I were to use a bassist at any point, in a heartbeat, Alex Blake. As for other artists, I would love to work with some heavy duty Afrobeat artists, like Seun Kuti & Egypt 80; infuse some salsa sounds into my repertoire with a group like the Afro-Cuban All Stars; it would also be great to work with some traditional Japanese musicians, using the koto, taiko drums, or Japanese-style flute, and have the ability to experiment with those completely unique sounds and textures that I was surrounded by when I lived there as a child.

If I was to work with other musicians and artists, I'd like it to be an experience I could really learn from. I want to delve into another land with an entirely different way of life, culture, philosophy, and perception of the world. It's such a beautiful experience to make music with someone on that kind of level.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
Recently, we played at our Tucson home base, Rhythm & Roots, and about an hour before the performance it started to pour. It was the end of our monsoon season and as much as the desert needs rain, we knew this would hurt our draw. We ended up with a good sized audience and performed with thunder and lightning accompaniment. It was only after the performance that we found out that it was by far the worst storm of the entire monsoon season, that tens of thousands of people lost their power, roads were flooded, power lines down and trees had fallen, blocking many roads. Over the next couple of days we heard from scores of people telling us that they couldn't get out of their house to come to the performance. Mother Nature took its toll on us that night, but the music was great.

Favorite venue:
Recently I did a show at Tucson's Historic Fox Theatre, and it was definitely a killer experience—the sound was awesome, the stage huge, the building stunning, the size ideal (1200 makes it large but still intimate)...it was an all-around perfect place to play this kind of music, because I could really feel the audience's presence and my band had space to really stretch out, both physically and musically! I also love our home-base in Tucson, Rhythm & Roots. Great vibe and it's all about the music there. It's a great listening room.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
My latest album, Out of the Box, is also my first album, so I guess that makes this question easier than it will be later in my career! But truly, I am very happy with the way it turned out—it was such a wonderful experience and it really upped my game artistically. I was able to work with an incredible producer (who is also my manager), Marty Khan, who has produced numerous jazz artists like The World Saxophone Quartet
World Saxophone Quartet
World Saxophone Quartet

band/orchestra
, Sonny Fortune
Sonny Fortune
Sonny Fortune
b.1939
sax, alto
, George Russell
George Russell
George Russell
1923 - 2009
piano
, Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
1923 - 2011
sax, tenor
and so many others. With his guidance, encouragement and understanding I was able to exercise a lot of freedom and make a lot of decisions that most artists don't. We approached the recording in a very old school, organic way (which only lives in the world of jazz nowadays, and even then, not as often as it once did)—live!—everyone in the same room playing at the same time.

Another special thing about it (and again, another thing most artists wouldn't get away with) is that I was able to showcase the various styles of music that I do, almost like a montage, which is a risky way to debut my "style" (since it's supposedly an advantage to be "classifiable"). But I will always aim to constantly improve my craft, make each song, each show, and each album better than the last. That's the beautiful thing about music and about life—there's always room for growth!

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
- (Blue Note). I bought it on a whim, too, before I really knew what an amazing piece of jazz history it was—go figure!

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Passion. Passion for life, for love, for peace, for inspiring others and creating a means by which people from all walks of life can relate with one another. And unfettered creativity, with no limitations on keeping the music from where it needs to go to fulfill itself.


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