ARTIST BIO:A master’s level jazz graduate from the University of Northern Colorado, Canadian born saxophonist Darren Rahn at the age of 37 has already achieved more than most musicians dream possible. As one of the smooth jazz genre’s hottest producers, Darren has dominated the Billboard and Radio and Records (R&R) charts over the past few years. He recently had three consecutive #1 productions on the coveted R&R smooth jazz chart, holding the #1 position with three different artists (Dave Koz, Eric Darius, & Tim Bowman) from September all the way through the end of 2008. That’s 14 consecutive weeks at #1! During that time, Darren held the top three chart positions for several weeks and had as many as four songs in the top 10 at the same time.
Rahn began working behind the scenes in the mid-90s producing and programming tracks for other artists. It was his work with Wayman Tisdale in 2004 on the #1 single, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” that would bring Rahn to the forefront of the music industry.
“Until my work with Wayman, I remained pretty much behind the scenes,” said Rahn. Rahn continued to work in the studio with Tisdale and an assortment of other smooth jazz heavy hitters. These relationships would prove pivotal in the launching of his solo career and enabled him to quickly move from behind the console to the stage. By 2006, Rahn co-headlined in Catalina along-side Brian Culbertson and has toured with Tim Bowman, played with leading acts like Wayman Tisdale, Eric Darius, Kim Waters and Greg Karukus. In 2007, Rahn signed with nuGroove Records and released his debut CD, Once in a Lifetime.
Integrating his solo career with his producer side is something Rahn juggles with ease. “I balance it pretty well. When I’m in the studio, I usually let the “producer” take the lead. I’m almost always in producer mode… making sure what is being played serves the song best,” said Rahn.
However, Rahn is quick to admit that playing the saxophone remains his first love. “I was an artist before I was a producer. The producer thing just kind of happened,” said Rahn. “Long before I was doing what I do now, I was playing the saxophone.”
Indeed, it was his early work on his debut CD, Once in a Lifetime, that caught the attention of Wayman Tisdale in 2004. Later, Eric Darius would take note of this solo work from the CD and hire Rahn as producer as well.
As an artist, Rahn constantly strives to raise the benchmark in his music. “I want to let the music and playing speak for itself. I want my playing to be timeless to stand the test of time,” said Rahn. Creating his own sound is equally important. “The people that are successful really have a distinct sound. They have the ability to maintain a sustainable career,” he said.
Rahn believes that in order to be a successful performer, you must not only be original in your creative process but you must also pay close attention to the connection with the listening audience. “Music is not just for me. If a song was just for me, then I really don’t see the point of recording it on an album. The reason for my playing is to reach out and share with people. I want to take what is in my heart and really connect with the audience,” said Rahn. “I hope my music brings people happiness and is a positive force. I’m not the kind of guy that wants to sit around and do dark music. I want to do music that touches people and gives them a lift,” he said.
In an industry that is often more interested in the bottom line than artistic merit, Rahn has managed to remain strong in his desire to carve out his unique sound. Rahn has shown that it is possible to find a happy medium between commercialism and creativity. “Every time I write or produce, I’m trying to break at least a little bit of new ground,” said Rahn. “I know what’s worked in the past and what people have enjoyed but I don’t want to get stuck there,” he said.
When writing new music, Rahn stays up-to-date on industry trends but doesn’t try to write specifically to fit the radio format. “I’m aware of what’s working in the music industry but I don’t write my material based on that. I write from my heart. Whatever is moving me at that moment is what dictates the outcome. I let my heart lead the way but I also use what I’ve gleaned from the industry. The trick is to make sure everything is done to best serve the art,” said Rahn.
Although he continues to break new ground and redefine the landscape of contemporary jazz, this young lion doesn’t consider himself a pioneer. “There are many great pioneers in this genre that have come before me. I’ve certainly learned from them. I have no doubt guys like Jeff Lorber, Grover Washington, Jr. and David Sanborn have been pioneers,” said Rahn. “There are a lot of changes in the industry right now and I’m part of those changes, but I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a pioneer. I’m not pretentious or presumptuous about what I’ve done or am going to do. I’m just happy about doing what I love,” he said.
In October of 2008, Rahn announced that he joined De’Nate’, the nuGroove band created by industry veteran David Chackler with Deborah Connors on vocals and Nate Harasim on keyboards. "The chemistry between Rahn, Connors and Harasim is remarkable. In many ways, it reminds me of the magic that happened when Keith Olsen and I introduced Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham to Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. It's an indescribable energy that you can see, feel and hear," said David Chackler, President of nuGroove.
NuGroove is proud to present Darren’s new release “Talk of the Town”, which features the industry’s top session players and includes thoughtful collaborations with Bob James, Jeff Lorber, Wayman Tisdale, Tim Bowman and others. Find out more at www.darrenrahn.com and www.myspace.com/darrenrahn