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New Release: The Idea of North

New Release: The Idea of North

Andrew Rathbun’s CD The Idea of North was inspired by the late classical pianist Glenn Gould’s radio documentary of the same name, though the latter debuted back in 1967 (after Gould had retired from public performing). Rathbun, a fellow Canadian, used the diversity of his homeland’s geography and climate, plus the solitude of much of the landscape, as stimulus for his compositions. The saxophonist penned six sketches to give his musical interpretation of Canada. “Harsh” unfolds into the avant-garde, with his hard-blowing tenor sax interacting with the tense rhythm section. As Rathbun switches to soprano sax for the tantalizing post-bop “December,” one can feel the sense of isolation and loneliness during a winter journey far from civilization. The interplay of trumpeter Taylor Haskins and pianist Frank Carlberg is a highlight of Rathbun’s demanding “Rockies.” Rathbun also incorporates music by others, with a haunting treatment of Wayne Shorter’s ballad “Teru” (playing tenor) and a majestic setting of 18th century German composer Christoph Gluck’s Minuet and Dance of the Blessed Spirits, where he again switches to soprano. Andrew Rathbun’s The Idea of North needs no film footage to convey the wonders of Canada. – Ken Dryden, ALL MUSIC GUIDE Andrew Rathbun – saxophones Taylor Haskins – trumpet Nate Radley – guitar Frank Carlberg – piano Jay Anderson – bass Michael Sarin –... read more
LA Jazz Scene review: Where We Are Now

LA Jazz Scene review: Where We Are Now

by Scott Yanow Tenor and soprano-saxophonist Andrew Rathbun on Where We Are Now explores postbop jazz, which is music that falls into the large area of being more advanced than hard bop but not quite as free as avant-garde jazz. Rathbun, whose soprano sound (but not his notes) recalls Wayne Shorter, is particularly original as a tenor-saxophonist and a composer. He is joined by guitarist Nate Radley, pianist George Colligan, bassist Johannes Weidenmuller and veteran drummer Billy Hart. Unfortunately the liner notes say little about Rathbun’s nine originals so one has no clue what the background is for the four-part “Son Suite.” However the music does not require any explanation since the playing is at a very high level, Rathbun, Radley and Colligan perform concise and meaningful solos, the ensembles are clean and this is an example of modern mainstream jazz of the early 21st... read more
jazzblog.ca review: Where We Are Now

jazzblog.ca review: Where We Are Now

by Peter Hum Excerpt: Rathbun’s CD, Where We Are Now, features a quintet tackling Rathbun’s meaty, moody compositions. Guitarist Nate Radley, a notable post-Kurt Rosenwinkel player, is more a front-line member than rhythm-section man on the disc. Pianist George Colligan more than satisfies the requirements of Rathbun’s challenging material. Bassist Johannes Wiedenmuller anchors things perfectly while drummer Billy Hart is the band’s extra something – on Where We Are Now, Hart’s broadly splashing as only he can. Full review @ Ottawa... read more
Irish Times Review: Where We Are Now

Irish Times Review: Where We Are Now

by Ray Comiskey ★★★★ The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings calls Rathbun a rising star and, on this evidence, that s spot on. The Canadian saxophonist/ composer is a gifted performer who writes challenging and complex pieces; their main raison d’ etre may be harmonic, but their lines also have a kind of cerebral lyricism ideally suited to his tenor and soprano. There is also a wider ambition here: no less than a state-of-the-US-nation address in music. Whether it has the resonance of Rathbun’s earlier, Bush-bashing Affairs of State is arguable; a sense of unease lurks here, especially in the four-part Son Suite, dedicated to his child, so the points being made are more subtle. But the music, with Nate Radley (guitar) and a George Colligan-Johannes Weidenmuller- Billy Hart rhythm section, is seldom less than engrossing, with Rathbun’s soprano captivatingly eloquent and Hart a force of... read more
AAJ review: Where We Are Now

AAJ review: Where We Are Now

by Mark Corroto Excerpt: It is quite insouciant to categorize jazz musicians as either composers or players. But jazz devotees sometimes typecast artists as writers or interpreters of music. With a mature talent such as composer/saxophonist Andrew Rathbun, categorizing him in one camp or the other is unwarranted. With Where We Are Now, his tenth disc as leader, he displays his growing maturity as a player and more of his acclaimed talents as composer/arranger. Like his last few discs, he sets aside his taste for poetry and vocalists to center the session on the music. That’s not to say his writing isn’t chock-full of versification. His “Son Suite” in four parts, written (of course) for his child, is a cohesive 26-minutes of music, showcasing both the writing and soloing. The mysterious opening gives way to a joyous music, Rathbun switching between the soprano and tenor saxophones to alter the mood. By the fourth section, bassist Johannes Weidenmuller’s bowing is followed by a mallet solo from master percussionist Billy Hart’s that reads like a fine verse. Full review @ All About... read more
New Release: Where We Are Now

New Release: Where We Are Now

Poetry has played a significant part in the oeuvre of Andrew Rathbun, and this recording is no exception. In his past work, the poetry has on more than one occasion been a spoken accompaniment to the music (& vice-versa). Here (as is often the case on planet Earth these days) the poetry can be found in the cracks: in nearly all of Billy Hart’s embellishments, especially the stunning, stark, and utterly definitive last tones of the evocative “Son Suite”; in George Colligan’s exquisite touch on the opening notes of “A Stern” which truly set the song afloat, in Johannes Weidenmuller’s intense, determined solo on “Wheel”; in the Icarus-like moments during Nate Radley’s flight on “Film Under Glass”; in Andrew Rathbun’s haunting saxophone-choir of-himself during the last movement of the “Son Suite.”  Moments like these are plentiful on this recording. Perhaps most importantly though, these musicians have been given superbly crafted frameworks within which to find these moments. Certainly this would not be possible without the deft touch of a skilled composer shaping and guiding the music in the least intrusive manner possible. It is here that we find the voice of Andrew Rathbun in this reading of where we are now. Andrew’s last recording, “Affairs of State,” wordlessly wrestled with the increasingly complex issues facing the United States and the world today. “Where We Are Now” is a testament to exactly that: a perspective on where we stand a few years later, on the cusp of one of the most important decisions to ever be made by the American public, which will surely have far-reaching consequences no matter which way... read more
Recent Reviews: Affairs of State

Recent Reviews: Affairs of State

A few notices about the new CD: Downbeat “With impressive tone and phrasing, Rathbun knows his way around the horn, as he shapes personable and expressive solos.” Coda Rathbun’s attractive sound and smart writing are ever present on nine originals composed for his own personal state of the union musical message. Lots to enjoy here, including sinuous interplay, the clever unraveling of the leader’s complex notions, harmonic prowess, attractive melodies and sophisticated outlook that slips and slides to exhilarating, yet never overstated effect.” Globe and Mail Who says political music has to have lyrics? For his eighth album, tenor saxophonist Andrew Rathbun – a Toronto native settled in Brooklyn – looks at life under George W. Bush, and comes away bemused, appalled, angry and upset. This isn’t protest music in the sixties ’60s vein, all shrieking horns and improvisational chaos; instead, Rathbun and his quintet rely on wit and understatement to make their points. Like fellow saxophonist Mark Turner, Rathbun combines a cool, dry tone with a fondness for melodic-yet-cerebral improvisation, and has a perfect foil in trumpeter Taylor Haskins, whose playing manages to be both warmly expressive and nimbly aggressive. In all, an engaging, thought-provoking album. All About Jazz Andrew Rathbun is a Canadian-born tenor saxophonist resident in New York, a Brooklyn regular who has garnered support from fellow tenorists Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman as well as trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. That should give some sense of Rathbun’s lineage. He’s a thoughtful player and—true to the influence of Wheeler (and Booker Little) and the mid-’60s Miles Davis quintet—a skillful composer, honing a refined lyricism that explores challenging harmonic... read more
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Numbers & Letters

Andrew's latest release features Phil Markowitz (piano), Jay Anderson (bass), and Bill Stewart (drums) performing a set of 11 original compositions.

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