Frank Rehak was an exceptional bebop trombonist who can be heard on many classic recordings by Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Cannoball Adderly and Dizzy Gillespie. Nothing I write here would do his talent justice, so I'll just tell you how we became friends.
Frank with John Coltrane and Miles Davis
I met Frank in 1969 when he entered Synanon to kick his heroin habit for the last time. I was 14, and seeing him in such terrible shape made a big impression on me.
Once he cleaned up, he took me under his wing and began to pass on his vast knowledge about everything musical. We recorded many times together, mostly on Synanon’s primitive multi-track recording equipment.
In 1986, Frank was battling cancer of the esophogaus. We both wanted to get his sound on tape one last time, but day after day, he would show up too wiped out to do anything more than put together his horn and blow a couple of notes.
But one night he said “Be ready-- tomorrow is the day.” I went to my studio and composed a song about his wild life called Man With The Horn. He arrived bright and early-- I suspect he simply didn’t take his medication that day. He listened to the song once, gave a hearty laugh and ripped off a beautiful, lyrical solo. Although we had 6 more months of hanging out together, that was the last I ever heard him play.
After his death I gave the song to his wife, Sandra, and only played the tracks for our friends and other trombonists who to this day are usually fascinated to hear anything by Frank. But in 1997, I isolated his horn and re-recorded the rhythm track (the old ones were just cheesy midi tracks), and augmented the arrangement with our mutual friends and bandmates David Scott and Bruce Gilbert on saxes. The result is track 13 on Plays Well With Others, and I hope it is a fitting tribute to this generous man and his outstanding musicianship.