John Rae (musician)
John Rae (born 8 June 1966 Edinburgh, Scotland) is a jazz drummer, composer, and band leader.
Early Life and career
John Rae was born in Edinburgh on 8th June 1966 to Scottish parents Margaret and Ronnie Rae. Rae was brought up in the Sighthill area of the city before moving to Livingston as a teenager. John and his other five siblings were encouraged by their father and mother, both jazz musicians and educators, to pursue a career in music from an early age. When he was fourteen he attended a weekly jazz workshop under the drumming tutelage of Bill Kyle and Mike Travis. There he met saxophonist Tommy Smith. Under Smith, they won the Edinburgh International Jazz Festival Best Group award in 1981 and a year later Rae won Best Group under his own name. Rae was soon performing around Edinburgh and Scotland in a quartet with Tommy Smith. In 1982 he recorded for the first time on Smith's debut recording Giant Strides in a trio format featuring Rae, Smith and bassist Alan Taylor. Rae then went on to tour and perform around Europe with a group under the musical direction of Johnny Keating and spent the next three years living and playing around the world in a variety of musical settings that included Soviet and American cruise liners, before moving to New York in 1984.
On his return to Scotland, Rae began the seminal Scottish jazz group The John Rae Collective. . As it's leader, the ensemble went on to contest Smith’s dominance of the Scottish jazz world in the late 1980s and the sextet was a key breeding ground for musicians who subsequently came to prominence in their own right, including pianist Brian Kellock, saxophonist Phil Bancroft, trumpeter Colin Steele, bassist Kenny Ellis and guitarist Kevin Mackenzie, all of whom are active in multiple projects both as leaders and sidemen. Another of John Rae’s early ventures was the Giant Stepping Stanes, who broke new ground in combining elements of modern jazz with Scottish folk music, an area of cross-fertilization that has since expanded steadily and fruitfully, not least through the early work of Rae.
Leaving Scotland again, Rae spent the next five years living in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. There, along with Venezuela musician Julio Pacheco he formed the group Sex and Violence that included musicians from the USA, Cuba, Sweden, Gran Canario, Scotland and Venezuela and recorded the album Ten Wasted Years. Returning once more to his native Scotland, Rae formed Celtic Feet in 1998, a group that incorporated Scotland's jazz and traditional musicians around original compositions by Rae. Again with Brian Kellock and Phil Bancroft along with Eilidh Shaw fiddle, Mario Lima Caribe bass and Simon Thoumire concertina, the ensemble recorded two critically acclaimed albums for the Scottish label Caber Music and performed at festivals throughout Europe. Other notable works by Rae at this time included Big Feet & the Islay Pipe Band.
This was a busy time for Rae who was also collaborating with European musicians from different genres in the groups 'Magic Feet' and the Balkan all star group 'Miraculous Meetings' as well as touring and recording with the award winning Brian Kellock Trio and Colin Steele Quintet.
Around this time Rae reunited with Tommy Smith as the drummer for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra from 2000–2003, recording Miles Ahead featuring Canadian trumpet player Ingrid Jensen and was awarded a Herald Angel Award at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He was the music director and composer for the modern dance piece by the national centre for dance in Scotland, Dance Base, entitled 'Off Kilter'.
In 2008 Rae moved country again. This time to New Zealand and in 2010 was the first ever jazz Composer-in-Residence at Victoria University, New Zealand. Now a New Zealand citizen, Rae is the leader and composer for the New Zealand jazz group The Troubles who have released two recordings to date.
Performance and recordings
As well as his debut recording with the Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith Rae has subsequently recorded over 70 albums as a leader and side man, including two BBC Jazz Albums of the Year (2004 and 2003).Rae has been involved with many international groups including The Troubles, Giant Stepping Stanes, John Rae Collective, John Rae's Celtic Feet, Afro Celtic Jazz Ensemble, Magic Feet, and Miraculous Meetings and has performed and recorded with many of the world's best jazz musicians including Vijay Iyer, Ethan Iverson, Guus Janssen, Brian Kellock, Joe Lovano, Mike Nock, Lee Konitz, Ingrid Jensen, George Colligan, Dave Liebman, Maria Schneider, BBC Radio Big Band, Tony Scott, Charles McPherson, David Berkman, Sheila Jordan, Art Farmer, Jamie Cullum, Warren Vache, Finlay MacDonald, Julian Arguelles, Buddy DeFranco, Red Rodney, Julio Pacheco, Mark Murphy, Pete King, Scott Hamilton, Jim Mullen, Barney Kessel, Kenny Wheeler, Ken Peplowski, Martin Taylor, Jesse Davis and the New Zealand String Quartet.
The Troubles – Kapow!, Thick Records NZ
The Troubles – The Troubles, Rattle Records
Campbell/Rae/Dyne – Storm in a Teacup, Rattle Records
John Rae Collective – The Big If Smiles Again, Thick Records NZ 022
John Rae's Celtic Feet – Celtic Feet, Thick Records NZ 010
John Rae's Celtic Feet – Beware the Feet, Thick Records NZ 018
Ben Wilcock and The Jelly Rolls – The Phantom Canoe, Thick Records NZ
Mike Nock – Transformations, CDMANUS129
Mike Nock – Sketches, CDMANUS130
Warren Vache – Just Hold Me, INN10
Fionna Duncan – Body and Soul, TenToTen Records
Ronnie Rae – Cradle to the Groove, TenToTen Records
Tommy Smith – Giant Strides, G.R.P 322
Martin Taylor – Change of Heart, Linn AKD
Spike Robinson- Stairway to the Stars, Hep 03
Tom Bancroft Orchestra – Tom Bancroft, Caber 001
Hue and Cry – Stars Crash Down, EMI
Brian Kellock Trio – Something's got to Give, Caber 003
Brian Kellock Trio – Live at Henry's, Caber 020 (BBC Album of the Year 2003)
John Burges – Urge to Burge, Caber 011
Findlay Macdonald – Findlay Macdonald, Foot Stompin Records
Colin Steele – Twilight Dreams, Caber 021 (BBC Album of the Year 2004)
Colin Steele – The Journey Home, Caber 029
Scottish National Jazz Orchestra – Miles Ahead, Spartacus Records
Dulce - Todd Foundation
Where the Wild Clematis Grows - WW100
North to the Apricots - New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Wellington Jazz Orchestra, Director Roger Fox,
Happy - Royal New Zealand Air Force Concert Orchestra
The Troubles - Creative New Zealand
Ricky - Wellington Civic Choir 5th anniversary
The Long Road Home - Colin Hemmingsen/NZSM for saxophone and string quartet
The House That Jack Built - for solo piano premiered by Dan Poynton
Skippy - Scottish National Jazz Orchestra A Tribute to Monk.
Magic Feet - Serious Music Productions
Off Kilter - Dance Base
'Jock Stein' - A Love Supreme’ Scottish National Jazz Orchestra
Big Feet - Scottish Arts Council New Music
Brian Kellock - Creative Scotland
Root’s to Fruits - National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland
Your Highness Uranus - Scottish National Jazz Orchestra
Celtic Feet - Scottish Arts Council