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Trevor Rabin: All Colors Considered

By Published: November 26, 2012
In the main, however, these songs are inspired by nostalgia. "Market Place" is where Rabin's father—a lawyer—had his offices, and it is one of two tracks, along with "Through the Tunnel," that feature Colaiuta on drums. "I had never met Vinnie, but I love his drumming," says Rabin. "I sent him 'Market Street' and asked him how he felt. He said he was quite excited. So he came in, and I thought we'd probably have to spend a day or two on it, but I swear to God, 40 minutes went by, and we had two spectacular takes. I didn't know which one to use. My goodness, he just nailed it," Rabin says, still in palpable awe of Colaiuta's performance. "I hadn't written drum parts that he was restricted to play," continues Rabin, "but I'd written a kind of geography, so he knew where things went, but he just nailed it. He's the most extraordinary player I've ever played with."

Another fairly special talent who appears on the track "Anerley Road" is bassist Wilkenfeld. "I was pretty much the only musician on the album," says Rabin, "but at no time did I think I was going to play everything. I had actually finished the bass on 'Anerley Road,' and, in talking to Vinnie, I decided to ask Tal Wilkenfeld
Tal Wilkenfeld
to play bass. I edited the track so that she could play a solo."

An older collaborator was drummer Lou Molino, who has worked consistently with Rabin for over 20 years. "He was a very natural place for me to go," says Rabin. "Lou is the funniest guy in the world," he adds. "With Lou, if you get past a minute without laughing, you don't have a sense of humor. And he's like [keyboardist] Rick Wakeman, just an endless card."

One of the most melodically appealing compositions on Jacaranda is "Rescue," originally composed for the film The Guardian (2006) and featuring wordless vocals from Liz Constintine. Rabin recalls the birth of this piece of music several years before. "I watched this piece of film that was very inspiring, and I'd sit at the piano and compose. Some things were close, and other stuff wasn't. I'd come back into the studio the next day and listen back to my ideas, and then suddenly that melody hit me. It hit all at once," he recalls, "though obviously I had to edit it around the picture." Though the version on Jacaranda is different, the melody remains the same, and Constintine weaves the sort of magic that raises goose bumps. "When Liz sang this, I thought, 'Oh my goodness, she's made this her own,'" says Rabin.

Composing film soundtracks has been Rabin's bread and butter for the last decade and a half, but his first film soundtrack was for a film called The Snowman, as far back as 1976. The first, maybe, but Rabin has little nostalgia for the music he composed for that film. "Am I proud of it? Not at all," laughs Rabin. "I did that soundtrack in the days when there was no MIDI and extremely basic synthesizers. They were barely synthesizers," he recalls.

"I went to a motel on the beach with my now wife and watched the movie on a sheet on the wall and wrote the score. I literally wrote that on paper and then took it to the orchestra, who of course had heard nothing. It was the really old-fashioned way. I would explain to the director what I was thinking, you know, a French horn here and there," laughs Rabin at the memory of such primitive methodology.

Nevertheless, there are a few soundtracks among the 40 that Rabin has since composed that he's particularly fond of. "Flyboys and The Great Raid are two films that didn't have great box-office success, but I was really pleased with them. I did them in England with an orchestra at George Martin's place, AIR Studios. I was proud of those two." Of the 40 films Rabin has scored, 10 have been for producer Jerry Bruckheimer, films that have generated over $2.4 billion in ticket sales.

Did the long years of composing film soundtracks have an effect on the compositional approach to Jacaranda? "I think so, from the point of view of the freedom—just getting away from the thought that it's going to be a rock album where I have to be careful of the demographic and who we're selling it to. I really didn't care," he says. "The main thing was that I wanted to challenge myself as a player and as an arranger. In movies, we use a lot of MIDI instruments, sequencing and loops, but on this album all the instruments are played by humans. There was some manipulation of sound but no programming."

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