Ex-YES Guitarist Trevor Rabin Releases New Album

Written by on June 21, 2012 in Cover Story, Interviews, June 21, 2012 - Comments Off on Ex-YES Guitarist Trevor Rabin Releases New Album
Trevor Rabin

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Trevor RabinJACARANDA To Critical Acclaim

Trevor Rabin releases Jacaranda (Varese Vintage Records), his first new solo album in two decades since Can’t Look Away. The extremely versatile Rabin covers a wide range of styles on the new album, including rock, jazz, and classical. Trevor Rabin plays all of the instruments himself, with the exception of drums on the tracks, for which he brought in noted jazz/rock drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (Sting, Frank Zappa), longtime Rabin drummer Lou Molino III, and Rabin’s son Ryan Rabin (Grouplove). He also brought in noted bass guitarist Tal Wilkenfeld (Jeff Beck, Herbie Hancock) who plays on the track “Anerley Road.” Vocalist Liz Constintine is featured on the track “Rescue,” inspired by the film The Guardian.


When discussing an artistic and challenging achievement like Trevor Rabin’s Jacaranda, a writer really has to strain for on-target adjectives and terms to describe this richly varied and multi-dimensional musical soundscape…while Rabin’s world-class guitar work is the driving force of the album, he shows off his considerable keyboard chops as well. Jacaranda is for music lovers of any genre. Period. It’s astonishing, haunting, passionate, powerful, and an experience that transcends any expectations.


Trevor Rabin is one of the finest musicians to come out of South Africa, hell, he’s one of the finest to come out of anywhere….now, releasing Jacaranda (his first solo album since 1989’s Can’t Look Away), Rabin proves he deserves the accolodes presented in the opening paragraph. Rabin simply amazes listeners with his technique, vesatility, virtuosity, and physical dextrity. Jacaranda crosses genres as jazz, rock, Chet Atkin’s picking and even classical come flying off this man’s talented fingertips.

All Access Magazine (AAM) recently was given the opportunity to interview this highly-accomplished musician (heretofore noted as TR, or Trevor Rabin). Here’s how it went.

AAM: When did you first come up with the idea to record “Jacaranda”?

TR:  After having been in Yes for many years I thought it was time to take a break from that… and from there moved into composing film scores. My desire to work with orchestra was pretty intense, and now fourteen years and forty scores later, I was very ready to do an album. Near the end of 2007, I started getting the idea for what I wanted to do. It’s taken that long because I would do an intense three or four weeks on it, where I was playing, and playing hard. I would then take a break because I was getting into another project and then come back to it. I kept doing that for a number of years, and then last year, I really disciplined myself to not really do a lot else but finish the album.

AAM: How would you best describe the music on the new album?

TR:  Essentially I am a guitar player and I love playing many styles. Jacaranda is an instrumental album with a whole load of different things on it. The song “Through the Tunnel” rocks whereas  “Market Street,” “Storks Bill Geranium Waltz,” and “Freethought” reach back to more traditional jazz. The idea for the song “Rescue” came from a film score I had previously done. “Killarney” I would consider to be a classically oriented piece of music. A lot of bluegrass, jazz, rock, fusion, and a bit of, not sure what to call it!

AAM: Musically, what differences exist in the music on Jacaranda compared to your last solo album, “Can’t Look Away?”

Trevor RabinTR: “Can’t Look Away” took a while to write and it evolved over time. I look back on it and think ‘I wish I would have known then what I know now.’ Every album I’ve done, or film for that matter, has moments like that. And up until now I think the quality of the album made it the best solo album I had done. The “Jacaranda” recording process took over six years. This was primarily due to the time I would spend composing for a film – typically 2-3 months, many hours a day, seven days straight – and then come back to work on the album. So it was done sporadically, as inspiration struck, over a number of years. However, I spent most of last year dedicated to finishing it. And I’m very proud of it. . . and I’m confident this is the best work I’ve done so far.

AAM: How was the experience of having your son, Ryan Rabin, play on the new record with you?

TR: That was one of the highlights of the album for me. Ryan is brilliant. He’s got phenomenal ears, is a great drummer and produced his band’s debut album. One day I played this track for him with the electric drum mixes on it. We went into the studio  and he did his live tracks. I knew he was a good drummer but what was really amazing was how good a jazz drummer he is. He approached the music in such a natural way. He would play these odd metered rhythms on the first take perfectly and he just took to it like a fish to water.

AAM: As a film composer (Con Air, Armageddon, Remember The Titans, et al) you’ve scored over three dozen films. When did you decide to branch into that area?

TR:  When it got to the end of me with Yes–we had done a thousand shows or something; I just thought, “I can’t get up and play those songs for a while,” and that’s what led me to doing movies. Orchestration had always been a part of my training so it just seemed like a natural progression. Once I had done one or two, I was really enjoying it, and I was very lucky to get some fantastic clients, and forty movies later, here we are.

AAM: Do you have any regrets about departing YES?

Trevor RabinTR: I was in Yes for fourteen years and I’m very proud of what we achieved, even though things took a long time to get done. I think the most successful times we had were the shows, not the records—although I’m very proud of the records. I loved working with the guys and playing live with them. There was one show in Rio with 400,000 people in the audience. It was extraordinary. As a band we were very tight.  I’m still friendly with Jon, Chris and Rick but I’m happy with my decision to move on.

AAM: What music artists do you personally like and listen to?

TR: Bernard Herrmann is one of my favorite score composers.  Classical composers have to include Arnold Schoenberg, Beethoven, Elgar and Tchaikovsky as influences. Barney Kessel, Joe Pass, Alex Machacek and Sonny Landreth are guitarists I enjoy listening to.

AAM: Any plans to tour in the near future?

TR: A lot of people are talking to me about touring. At this point it’s down to figuring out what the show would be. As I’ve indicated, I love playing live. The immediacy of performing has always been an incredible addiction for me, and I hope it works out to play live. Time will tell.

AAM: What does the future hold, musically-speaking, for Trevor Rabin?

TR: I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced more fun playing than on this album. I was always excited to come back to the studio to continue working on it. So I’m looking forward to working on the next album. Of course, I really enjoy the film stuff, as every film has been an opportunity to do different areas of music, so I’ll certainly like to continue working to picture. The real positive thing that’s evolved due to Jacaranda, is the desire not to pin myself down in any one genre. It excites me to explore all types of music, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself doing something completely different soon. Although I do have a lot more I’d like to say in the same vein as Jacaranda.