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.
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With Art Farmer
- The Aztec Suite (United Artists, 1959)
With Dizzy Gillespie
With Mundell Lowe
- Themes from Mr. Lucky, the Untouchables and Other TV Action Jazz (RCA Camden, 1960)
- Samba Para Dos (Verve, 1963)
With Randy Weston
- Destry Rides Again (United Artists, 1959)