Welcome

First, let me tell you about that photo above--that's Frank Rehak on trombone playing with John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

And now, let me welcome you to this site. My name is Doug Robinson and I'm a composer and multi-instrumentalist who met Frank Rehak when I was only 15. More about that meeting in a moment.

Frank Rehak was an amazing and inspiring musician, mentor and friend, not just to me but to countless people from around the world. The fact that you might not be familiar with him or his musical legacy is understandable--he was a rising star of the jazz trombone in the '50s and '60s but his career was sabotaged by his heroin addiction. Even that didn't keep him from appearing on more than 4,000 recordings, including some of the most important jazz projects of the day. From the Miles Davis/Gil Evans classic "Sketches of Spain"  to Dizzy Gillespie's amazing State Department Band recordings to Michel LeGrand's all-star project "Legrand Jazz" and dozens of other influential recordings, Frank was in the middle of it all. Leonard Feather, in the 1960s edition of The Encyclopedia of Jazz, called Frank "highly respected as one of the most individual of modern trombonists."

I met Frank in 1969 when I was volunteering at Synanon, where Frank went to finally clean up his act and where he decided to stay and work with other addicts until his death in 1987. I watched him evolve from an obviously talented but sad mess, worn ragged by addictions and all of the accompanying problems, into a generous and joyous teacher, husband, mentor and friend. It is no exaggeration to describe Frank as an inspiration to thousands of other addicts who came to Synanon, desperate for one last chance. Over the years, Frank's story and personal demonstration proved that it was indeed possible to come back swinging hard.

This website is a 'work in progress' in the truest sense. I've managed to find some truly obscure audio tracks featuring Frank, but with him appearing on so many recordings (many out of print for decades now) I'll be adding audio tracks as I discover them.  Check back every once in a while if you love trombone, or Frank, or both!

In the meantime, come on in now and read a bit about Frank Rehak, one of the great jazz trombonists of all time. It's a great story. With the loving cooperation from his widow, Sandy, I've managed to digitize his solos from hundreds of recordings and some complete tracks as well. There is a ton of material that's never been heard before, including audio love letters from friends like Bill Watrous, Milt Hinton and Leonard Feather; interviews with friends and family and Frank himself; and maybe most intriguingly some of the music he created once he cleaned up, which as his unofficial archivist I can say is some of the strongest playing of his life.

Doug Robinson

Add message
  • Ira  Nepus

    Ira Nepus Thousand Oaks, Ca.

    Frank and I were roomates on Woody Herman's Band in the late 60's. It is through my father's connection to Synanon, that I was able to convince him to leave Woody's band and go to Synanon to get a fresh start again. You can hear my father's voice relating his incredible experience meeting Frank at the airport and then driving him to Synanon to check him in. It was a harrowing experience to say the least. My father, Sava, and I enjoyed our deep and special friendship with Frank all the way until his passing. I helped organize many great jam sessions for Frank and Art Pepper at Synanon in Santa Monica. Frank was one of the most lovable human beings. I am so glad to see this site to help keep his legacy alive.

    Frank and I were roomates on Woody Herman's Band in the late 60's. It is through my father's connection to Synanon, that I was able to convince him to leave Woody's band and go to Synanon to get a fresh start again. You can hear my father's voice relating his incredible experience meeting Frank at the airport and then driving him to Synanon to check him in. It was a harrowing experience to say the least. My father, Sava, and I enjoyed our deep and special friendship with Frank all the way until his passing. I helped organize many great jam sessions for Frank and Art Pepper at Synanon in Santa Monica. Frank was one of the most lovable human beings. I am so glad to see this site to help keep his legacy alive.

  • Sean West

    Sean West Las Vegas

    What a wonderful project. Thank you! I knew Frank in 1977, 78, and 79. Studied with him several times at Synanon in San Francisco. We would sit in his room and play duets, sort of. I was also a high school band director in the Bay Area. Our jazz band performed for Frank and Synanon at their location in Northern Cal woods. I think of him often and feel blessed to have known him. Pictures when I can find them.

    What a wonderful project. Thank you! I knew Frank in 1977, 78, and 79. Studied with him several times at Synanon in San Francisco. We would sit in his room and play duets, sort of. I was also a high school band director in the Bay Area. Our jazz band performed for Frank and Synanon at their location in Northern Cal woods. I think of him often and feel blessed to have known him. Pictures when I can find them.

  • Alan Kaplan

    Alan Kaplan Los Angeles

    This is a great site! I met Frank in the 70's. I didn't get to hear him play but did get to speak with him. He was a very nice guy.

    This is a great site! I met Frank in the 70's. I didn't get to hear him play but did get to speak with him. He was a very nice guy.

  • herb bruce

    herb bruce Florida

    Thank you! Frank was great and has not gotten enough press. Thanks for fixing that.

    Thank you!
    Frank was great and has not gotten enough press. Thanks for fixing that.

  • Neil Thomas

    Neil Thomas Gilbert, AZ

    Doug, I am really excited about your project. I can't wait to get into it and listen to some of Frank's old tunes. He was one of my great friends; we really established the bond to one another. Though he has been gone for 27 years I still think about him all the time. Thanks for providing those of us who love him with an opportunity to enjoy his legacy. Best to you....Neil

    Doug,
    I am really excited about your project. I can't wait to get into it and listen to some of Frank's old tunes. He was one of my great friends; we really established the bond to one another. Though he has been gone for 27 years I still think about him all the time. Thanks for providing those of us who love him with an opportunity to enjoy his legacy.
    Best to you....Neil

  • Margo Macartney

    Margo Macartney Bisbee AZ

    Hey Doug, what a great idea. I signed up with a different email than I've been using. The new one I'm saving for actual people that matter, with the old yahoo one for the garbage that comes from ordering online, etc. Thanks for doing this I loved Frank. I don't know if anyone else remembers, but at one point, he did a music writing class that I attended. I guess it didn't last long, but we wrote some music, which was a thrill for me, and played it.David Benjamin may remember.

    Hey Doug, what a great idea. I signed up with a different email than I've been using. The new one I'm saving for actual people that matter, with the old yahoo one for the garbage that comes from ordering online, etc. Thanks for doing this

    I loved Frank. I don't know if anyone else remembers, but at one point, he did a music writing class that I attended. I guess it didn't last long, but we wrote some music, which was a thrill for me, and played it.David Benjamin may remember.

  • Doug Robinson

    Doug Robinson San Miguel de Allende, MX

    Welcome to the site! Feel free to share memories about Frank so that all can see them, and by all means--if you've got some audio or video of Frank that might fit this site I'd love to hear about it. Straight ahead and strive for tone! Doug

    Welcome to the site! Feel free to share memories about Frank so that all can see them, and by all means--if you've got some audio or video of Frank that might fit this site I'd love to hear about it.

    Straight ahead and strive for tone!

    Doug

Join our mailing list for the latest news