Recent Updates

Upcoming Events

Two upcoming events of note:

FreefallNEW CD: Freefall from the WJQ

Info Here

Saturday March 8th
with special guest
66 Park Avenue at East 38th St
New York NY 10016
Sets at 8 and 10pm
Tel: 212-885-7000
Rsvn: 1-800-KITANO-NY


NEXT WEEK Edward Simon and myself will premiere a number of new works for Orchestra

Ed Simon Feb 19

Wednesday Feb 19
Dalton Live and interactive series:
pre-concert interview 7pm, Concert 7:30pm
Western Michigan Univ.
Dalton Center
Recital hall
School of Music
(269) 387-4667

Upcoming Events: Shadow Forms II Released

Shadow Forms IINEW CD: Shadow Forms II just released.

Wed Sept 11th
Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street, NYC 10014 (212)989-9319
8:30 and 10:00 PM

Thur. Sept 12th
Western Michigan University – Dalton Center
7:30 PM

Fri. Sept 13th
Kerrytown Concert House
415 N. 4th Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48104
8 PM

Sat Sept 14th
Milwaukee Jazz Gallery
926 E Center Street, Milwaukee WI 53212
7-10 pm

Sun. Sept 15th
Hungry Brain Series
2319 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL 60618

Interview with Jazz Weekly

An interesting and detailed interview on Jazz Weekly.

Excerpt: Saxist and composer Andrew Rathbun’s career has been filled with a thirst for knowledge, which he uses to pass on to his audience.  His first level of education came very young, through public school and his nascent performing career. He recalls, “I was blessed with a real good school in Toronto as a kid. You were pulled out of school and hour a week, and given a private lesson. There were two big bands, a blues band and a rock band, all guided by faculty members. They were all the best jazz guys in Toronto. I’m still in touch with one of the guys who I “blame” for my life as a jazz musician. He got me into all of this trouble; Geoff Young, a guitar playing. Really amazing, under the radar kind of guys. Great taste, and real inquisitive.”

Read full review @ Jazz Weekly

New Videos on YouTube

Some clips of a quartet at Cornelia Street Cafe:

Me + Nate Radley + Joe Martin + Clarence Penn





Frontier Psychiatrist Article

A really nice writer and musician named Alania Ferris wrote a nice profile of me at FRONTIER PSYCHIATRIST.


What is your musical history and how did you end up where you are today?

I was really lucky in that, when I was young, I went to a school that had a musically rich program – I attended an hour of private lessons each week at the school. That influenced my musical development a lot – started this musical quest. My teachers would mention all these musicians, so I’d set out to the library, borrow as many cassettes as I could carry, listen to them, copy them, learn them, and then go back next week…this became my modus operandi. You know, when you’re young, your cauldron is empty, and I wanted to fill it as fast as possible. I started playing clarinet in fourth  grade and then picked  up the saxophone in ninth grade. Later, I attended New England Conservatory of Music and am now getting ready to finish my D.M.A. at Manhattan School of Music.

Read full article here

AAJ review: The Idea of North

The Idea of Northby Ian Patterson


Excerpt: What effect does solitude have on a person? How can one grow as a result of being alone? These questions provoke a musical response from saxophonist, Andrew Rathbun, though the roots of his inspiration for this music lie over forty years ago. In 1967, legendary concert pianist Glenn Gould produced a radio documentary called “The Idea of North” where simultaneously played voices narrated five people’s views on Northern Canada. Gould called this experiment “contrapuntal radio,” an extension of his own musical voice and an exploration of the theme of solitude, a state which he needed creatively and craved personally. In his own way, New York-based Rathbun’s six compositions explore the vast expanses of his native Canada, translating the extremes of geography, climate, and the idea of solitude into musical narratives of contrasting mood.

Full review @ All About Jazz

New Release: The Idea of North

The Idea of NorthAndrew 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.


Andrew Rathbun – saxophones
Taylor Haskins – trumpet
Nate Radley – guitar
Frank Carlberg – piano
Jay Anderson – bass
Michael Sarin – drums

LA Jazz Scene review: Where We Are Now

Where We Are Nowby 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 century. review: Where We Are Now

Where We Are Nowby 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 Citizen

Irish Times Review: Where We Are Now

Where We Are Nowby 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 nature.

AAJ review: Where We Are Now

Where We Are Nowby 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 Jazz

New Release: Where We Are Now

Where We Are NowPoetry 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 it ends up. This situation, as we all know, is unsettled; it’s tenuous at best, and has been for some time now. The public is anxious and people have many questions about the future. The music herein reflects this with an ever- present probing nature, and a firm resolution to remain unresolved. The essence of a true artist comes from a desire to bring conflicting ideas together in order to show that there is no separation between them: all is one.  It is he who can see the beauty in an ugly situation, who feels hope even when there is no light, who can see the flow of poetry everywhere, even in something as rigidly mechanized as American politics.

Taylor Haskins
Brooklyn, NY 2008

Andrew Rathbun – saxophones
Nate Radley – guitar
George Colligan – piano
Johannes Weidenmuller – bass
Billy Hart – drums

Recent Reviews: Affairs of State

Affairs of State

A few notices about the new CD:


“With impressive tone and phrasing, Rathbun knows his way around the horn, as he shapes personable and expressive solos.”


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 patterns.
He`s also interested in consistent partnerships. The quintet heard here includes two musicians, trumpeter Taylor Haskins and bassist John Hebert, who played on Rathbun’s first quintet session, Scatter Some Stones (Challenge, 1998). Returning the favor, Rathbun has also appeared on Haskins’ two Fresh Sound CDs. As one might expect, there’s a close-knit feeling that extends from hand-in-glove ensemble playing to some understated contrapuntal improvising.

Rathbun likes extra-musical themes (two of his previous CDs have been poetry settings), and the pieces here reference the decline of America in the Bush years, from the Iraq war to collapsing infrastructure and luxury condos; however, the album’s dominant moods are melancholy and resilience rather than rage, an introspective lyricism that wouldn’t otherwise suggest the political theme. Rathbun’s compositions use contrasting elements to create tension and develop texture, as in the antiphonal voicings of “Fragmented,” the dissonant elegy of “We Have Nothing But Tears” and the effective use of sparkling electric piano on “Folly.” His tenor sound possesses significant flexibility, from warm calm to gritty resistance; it’s a fine match with Haskins, whose pitch inflections can add a sudden illumination.

The rhythm section—Herbert joined by pianist Gary Versace and drummer Mike Sarin—is a model of support, a loose and engaged presence balancing empathy and aggression with an almost orchestral breadth. The result is consistently thoughtful, well-crafted music in a mature idiom.

Affairs of State review: JazzTimes

Affairs of Stateby David Adler

Excerpt: Fiction could not create more colorful, ridiculous characters,” writes Andrew Rathbun in the liner notes to Affairs of State. He’s speaking of the Bush administration. A native of Canada based in Brooklyn, Rathbun is upset, like many, by political realities in the U.S. Since instrumental jazz, not fiction, is his expressive medium, he offers nine new compositions that speak to life under Bush, with such titles as “Fiasco,” “Break the Chains” and “We Have Nothing But Tears.” No major-key strolls in the park here. No heavy-handed rants, either. The program succeeds above all on musical grounds. Rathbun is an advanced tenor/soprano sax improviser whose previous efforts, including his 2002 Kenny Wheeler collaboration Sculptures, are well worth acquiring.

Read entire review @ JazzTimes

Affairs of State review: All Music Guide

Affairs of Stateby Ken Dryden

Andrew Rathbun’s Affairs of State is a collection of compositions that the tenor saxophonist considers as his musical impressions of the failures of President George W. Bush’s administration. Joined by trumpeter Taylor Haskins, pianist Gary Versace, bassist John Hebert, and drummer Mike Sarin, Rathbun’s demanding post-bop pieces are full of tension, though his liner notes do little to help understand them, coming off as more of an angry diatribe. That’s not to say that his music rambles like a typical Bush press conference. “We Have Nothing But Tears” is a haunting melody, as is the elegant, sorrowful “5th Anniversary” (written on the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001). Rathbun and Haskins enrich one another’s playing in the richly textured “Paint Peelings,” while “Break the Chains” is a driving number, with the band progressing through all 12 keys in eight bars. This is compelling music, regardless of whether or not a listener buys into Andrew Rathbun’s political views.

Source: All Music Guide review: Affairs of State

Affairs of Stateby Peter Hum

Excerpt: Rathbun’s CD is called Affairs of State, and his liner notes are explicit: The disc’s nine originals are “abstractions” based on Rathbun’s last six years living in the United States, during which he clearly came to disagree sharply with the people running the country. The songs range from Fiasco, inspired by the Iraq war, which Rathbun calls “the greatest failure in the history of U.S. foreign policy,” to 5th Anniversary, a slow, rumbling, plaintive song written five years to the day after Sept. 11, 2001, to a splashy waltz, Folly (of the Future Fallen), about which Rathbun writes: “History is not going to be kind to this bunch. These elected and selected folk will be remembered as misguided and wrong-headed.”

Full review @ Ottawa Citizen