|Studio album by Trevor Rabin|
|Released||May 8, 2012|
|Studio||The Jacaranda Room
(Hollywood, California, U.S.)
|Trevor Rabin chronology|
Jacaranda is the fifth studio album from the South African American musician and film composer Trevor Rabin, released on May 8, 2012 on Varèse Sarabande. His first solo album of new material since Can't Look Away (1989), Rabin started work on a new album in 2007 when he began writing instrumentals that were challenging to play that cover a variety of genres, including jazz fusion, rock, blues, classical, and bluegrass. Most of the album's song titles refer to something from Rabin's experiences while growing up in South Africa. Recording took place over a six-year period at Rabin's home recording studio in Los Angeles. Five guest musicians perform on the album that include drummers Lou Molino III, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Rabins' son Ryan, bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, and singer Liz Constantine.
After the release date of Jacaranda was pushed back several times, the album saw a limited release which entered the U.S. Billboard charts at number 6 under Contemporary Jazz Albums and number 19 under Jazz Albums. Several reviewers rated the album highly, giving praise to Rabin's musical abilities and the variety of genres he covers. Rabin cites Jacaranda as the best album of his career, and announced that a follow up album with more lead vocals had entered production.
Jacaranda is Rabin's first studio album of all new material since Can't Look Away (1989), a gap of 23 years. Since his departure from the rock band Yes in 1995, Rabin has worked as a film composer in Los Angeles, California. The idea of producing a solo album came about in 2007 when Rabin began, without any direction or influence from a record company, write "music that I enjoy" and "challenging for me to play", feeling "totally free" to develop new material and not be concerned if it was liked or not. Working on film scores for a long time made Rabin realise that their tight structure did not allow for him to "really stretch out and really play", resulting in him not playing anything challenging or technical on the guitar for a while. He opted to make an instrumental album as one with lead vocals and lyrics did not interest him at the time, and pointed out the benefit of changing track titles easily should he wish to change them. The many technical guitar passages on the album caused Rabin to blister his hands from recording, which he said was "really tough going".
Recording took place over a six-year period at The Jacaranda Room, the name of Rabin's home recording studio in Hollywood, California which he named, in addition to the album's title, after the Jacaranda tree found in his native South Africa. The album was recorded digitally throughout. Rabin wanted to make the album "a journey back to where I grew up"; most of the album's tracks reference something from Rabin's experiences while living in Johannesburg during the first 20 years of his life. "Anerley Road" refers to the road where he grew up, "and each side of the road is lined with Jacaranda trees ... the road becomes like this purple carpet and it is pretty spectacular". "The Branch Office" refers to a jazz music venue in the city. Recording an album with such memories made Rabin feel "a little" homesick. The album took a considerable amount of time to complete as Rabin worked on it during breaks from film scoring and family holidays. By 2011, Rabin had to reject several scoring projects in order to finish the album. The album's liner notes lists 16 acoustic and electric guitars that Rabin plays on Jacaranda, including bass, a piano, Hammond organ, and autoharp. He saw the album as "an opportunity to grab the instruments I love the most, forget the orchestra that I have been just swimming in for forty films, pick them up and play".
Five musicians perform additional instruments, including drummers Lou Molino III ("Anerley Road", "Freethought", and "Zoo Lake"), Vinnie Colaiuta ("Market Street" and "Through the Tunnel"), and Rabins' son Ryan ("The Branch Office" and "Me and My Boy"), who impressed Rabin when it came to recording the latter as it features an odd time signature of 7/8, making Rabin think he would have to sit him down to explain what he wanted, but Ryan sat down and played it "perfectly". Though Rabin did not plan on how the drums turned out on the final record, he was satisfied with the result and spent time thinking about which drummer would be the most suitable for each track. Rabin had never met Colaiuta before, but the drummer was happy to play for him and enjoyed playing on "Market Street" so much, he asked Rabin if there were other tracks he could feature on. At that stage, Rabin was still sketching out what "Through the Tunnel" was going to be but later recalled, "Before I had got through explaining it to him he sat down and played exactly what it was. It was phenomenal". Rabin also got Colaitua to play roughly six minutes of drums in a 20/8 time signature and recorded the rest of the song on top. At Colaiuta's suggestion, Rabin chose Australian bassist Tal Wilkenfeld to play on "Anerley Road" and thought her style was suitable for the track. Rabin did the voices on the second half of "Gazania" which he did purely for textural purposes, and Liz Constantine sings on "Rescue", a track he originally wrote as "Rescuing Fischer" for his score to The Guardian, but felt it would be suitable for Jacaranda. Because he co-owns the rights to the track with The Walt Disney Company, Rabin chose to re-record the track by changing its arrangements and adding guitars.
Jacaranda sees Rabin play a variety of genres, including elements jazz, rock, blues, classical, bluegrass, and baroque music, something which he did not make a conscious effort to do as he went with material that worked, but the mixture made the album exciting for him. On each track, Rabin wanted to "explore something new", and was a fan of the sound of bluegrass music and incorporated the genre in many of his film scores. Following the album's release, Rabin himself became unsure as to what genre the album fits under; following its release he called it "an instrumental album with a whole load of different things". Albeit the variety, Rabin considered the album to be the most focused of his career.
The album opens with "Spider Boogie", a short track that Rabin recorded while he was testing out a new amplifier. "Killarney 1 & 2" is a suite of two piano instrumentals, the second of which includes an acoustic guitar. Initially Rabin found it difficult to play what he had written for it, so he revisited a book of piano exercises to practice scales for two hours a day over a period of roughly five weeks. In addition, he practised the guitar for at least two hours each day, citing "Anerley Road" as an example track where he needed to get "back in shape". The track was a tribute to the influence of classical music during his childhood, and working with an orchestra on film scores for a number of years provided a "natural" influence on the piece. Though "Killarney 1 & 2" was not its original title, Rabin felt it was appropriate to rename it after the Johannesburg neighbourhood of Killarney where Rabin grew up. "Me and My Boy" opens with a heavy rock guitar sound that Rabin achieved on an Ampeg guitar that the manufacturer gave to him. The song then developed from the opening riff. For "Through the Tunnel", Rabin was inspired to do a shuffle in a 20/8 time signature, "which means basically six triplets and then two-thirds of a triplet at the end, chopping off the last triplet". When it came to Colaiuta recording drums for "Market Street", the song had not been fully written or arranged. Rabin asked him to perform around "six, seven minutes of 28" with different types of specific fills, which he did in one take, and began to develop the song from there. Rabin plays an Alembic bass guitar on the track. "Gazania" features a bark from Rabin's dog Rompie at the end.
Rabin did not consider options on how to the album was to be released, and with what label, until 2011, as the album neared completion. Despite being told that releasing an instrumental album would result in a decline in sales, Rabin chose to sign with Varèse Sarabande, a label that specialises in film scores and cast recordings, as he liked the staff and knew of past soundtracks released through them. He added: "Varese just seemed to get it. They really got what I was trying to do and understood what it was." The album's front cover portrait was done by Hannah Hooper, Ryan Rabin's band mate in Grouplove. The release date of Jacaranda was pushed back several times. Billboard first reported an initial release of September 2011, before Rabin said early January 2012 then April 2012. The album was finally released on May 8, 2012. A release party was held at the Gibson Showroom in Beverly Hills, California the following month. The album entered the Billboard charts at No. 6 under Contemporary Jazz Albums and No. 19 under Jazz Albums.
Ian Patterson of All About Jazz gave the album a positive review, writing "an innovative, surprising recording, which merges contrasting musical styles quite seamlessly. Rabin's nuanced writing and enveloping arrangements are as notable as his sparkling playing which, whilst technically impressive, is primarily concerned with telling a story." Shawn Perry also wrote a positive review for Vintage Rock, describing the album as "a tapestry of textures, layers, disciplines and pure virtuosity". GuitarHoo praised Rabin highly, saying the album "solidifies his place as a musical legend" that highlights his ability to "go back and forth between styles, while making it all his own, in an easy to listen to way. "Anerley Road" was picked as a highlight of the record, "interweaving intricate melodies with piano and syncopated beats".
Speaking on the album, Rabin expected to receive criticism from it as it lacked a strong focus to a particular demographic, but felt it was a good thing as he likes and performs a variety of music styles. He also expressed a concern that much of his fan base were still attached to his past role as rock guitarist and singer, thus making Jacaranda a more unpopular album, though felt helpful they would follow him on his "creative journey". He went on to describe the project overall as "almost like a guilty pleasure" as there was no need to make a new album for money but for the love of doing it. Following its release, Rabin named Jacaranda as the best album of his career, and had begun work on a follow up that is to feature lead vocals. On August 1, 2012, a music video for "Anerley Road" was released on YouTube.
All tracks written and arranged by Trevor Rabin.
|4.||"Through the Tunnel"||5:55|
|5.||"The Branch Office"||2:06|
|7.||"Killarney 1 & 2"||3:55|
|8.||"Storks Bill Geranium Waltz"||1:02|
|9.||"Me and My Boy"||3:14|
Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.
- Trevor Rabin
- acoustic and electric guitars (dobro, Westone Rainbow guitar, Gibson Super 400 CES, Moon acoustic guitar, gut string guitar, Alvarez signature guitar, Gibson Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster, Gretsch guitar, Barney Kessel guitar, Ludwig banjo, Alvarez acoustic guitar)
- bass guitars (Alembic bass, upright bass, Tobias guitar, Westone fretless bass, Bugbass upright bass)
- keyboards (Young Chang grand piano, Hammond B-3 organ)
- "a little vocal"
- Additional musicians
- Vinnie Colaiuta – drums on "Market Street" and "Through the Tunnel"
- Lou Molino III – drums on "Anerley Road", "Freethought", and "Zoo Lake"
- Ryan Rabin – drums on "The Branch Office" and "Me and My Boy"
- Tal Wilkenfeld – electric bass guitar on "Anerley Road"
- Liz Constantine – vocals on "Rescue"
- Trevor Rabin – production, engineering
- Paul Linford – mastering
- Ron DeVivo – back cover photo
- Bill Pitzonka – art direction and design
- Hannah Hooper – cover portrait
- Derek Rabin – legal
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