This funky Colorado-based saxman made some huge behind the scenes contributions to the smooth jazz genre prior to recording this picture-perfect 2007 breakout date that features key contributions by genre stars Wayman Tisdale, Jeff Lorber and Dave Koz. In addition to playing dates as a sideman with guitarist Tim Bowman and keyboardists Gregg Karukas and Brian Culbertson, his expertise as a producer led to a few of the format's biggest airplay hits of 2005-2006. He produced and played on “Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now” for Tisdale, then hooked up with saxman Eric Darius for six tracks on Darius' Just Getting Started album. Darren Rahn also produced half of Tisdale’s Way Up! album, and did a special remix of Jonathan Butler’s “Mandela Bay” for release as a radio single.
Since releasing Once In A Lifetime, his pace behind the scenes has amped up even more, as he’s contributed sax and flute to Brian Simpson’s Above The Clouds and produced tracks and played on guitarist Jay Soto’s Stay Awhile, Darius’ latest disc Goin’ All Out, Tisdale’s new Rebound, Michael Manson’s Up Front and Tim Bowman’s recent self-titled date (on which Rahn, a versatile keyboardist, also plays organ!) In November, Rahn had the fascinating distinction of having produced the top three airplay singles in smooth jazz (according to the Radio and Records Smooth Jazz Chart): Koz’s “Life In The Fast Lane,” Darius’ “Goin’ All Out” and Bowman’s “Sweet Sundays.” All have been at #1 and benefit from Rahn’s equally dynamic audio mixing skills!
The perfect balance of raucous up-tempo groovers, mid-tempo toe tappers and soothing ballads on Once in a Lifetime ensured that Rahn would gain notoriety as an artist as well. The appropriately titled “Breakin’ Out” (featuring Lorber's trademark retro vibes on Fender Rhodes) bounces along mightily, features irrepressible multiple horn hooks, and includes a moment to show some chops. That retro vibe infuses most of the tracks here, from the thumpin’ “Groove Tonight” to the seductive “Side Steppin’.” And Rahn knows how to turn on the charm and turn down the lights on cuts like “A Greater Love.” Fans of his work with Tisdale gravitated to the duo's “On the Rebound,” whose title is more than a sly wink to the bassist's status as an ex-NBA all-star—and of course, predictive of the title of Tisdale’s new album! And speaking of duets, Rahn and Koz tap into their gentle soprano side for the sweet, sensitive closing title track.
Hopefully, Rahn’s massive success as a behind the scenes force in smooth jazz won’t keep him from having the time to put out more incredible solo albums like this in the future!