Praise You: A Richard Anthony Hewson/The RAH Band Tribute Mix by Atjazz

 

For nearly five decades, The RAH Band – the brainchild of composer, producer and arranger Richard Anthony Hewson – have practiced their ear-pleasing concoction of jazz-funk, disco and pop.

A multi-instrumentalist and self-confessed “jazz head”, Richard started the band in 1977 as a solo project, going on to release an extensive back catalogue that includes classics like ‘Messages From The Stars’ and ‘Clouds Across The Moon’. Over the years, he’s worked with jazz luminaries like Herbie Hancock and The Count Basie Orchestra, and, as a producer, has masterminded the arrangements for The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and Diana Ross.

Now this year sees some of the classics from his discography pulled together for a new generation of discerning listeners, courtesy of fan, friend and Manuscript and Yoruba Records affiliate Atjazz. Citing The RAH Band’s music as life changing, Atjazz has long been inspired by Richard’s arrangements and innate ability to create a narrative with his productions.

Having released a remix EP for Atjazz’s label five years ago, Richard now returns to share some of the RAH Band’s classics that have been lovingly remastered from the original tapes.

Alongside a tribute mix to The RAH Band and some thoughts on The RAH Band’s impact, Atjazz chats to Richard about influences, favourite works and studio set ups…

Producer’s Choice will be released on 26th April on Atjazz Record Company.

Musician to musician, have any of the people you have worked with over the years ever left you star struck? Word on the street is that you stayed with Herbie Hancock for a short period when you were based in New York…  How did that effect you and did Herbie influence you in your work?

I would say that Herbie Hancock most definitely had a profound influence on my early career. In 1966 I was still at the Guildhall School of Music when I got the call from my Jazz teacher to assist Herbie on the music score for “Blow-Up”, a 1966 film by Antonioni. Of course I knew Herbie’s work with Miles Davis, I had recently seen them in concert, so I was blown away (if a lot nervous!) about the gig. It proved to be all and more rewarding and we got on great, he showed me some of his keyboard licks ‘n tricks that were mind-blowing! Later that year I was visiting the US and Herbie invited me to stay a couple of days at his apartment in New York. He took me on a tour of the city he knew most tourists didn’t take – that too was amazing.

Regarding your favourite personal work, do you have both, a favourite song you’ve written and do you have an arrangement that comes to mind that you are especially proud of?

This is a question that most songwriters dread because, I know it’s a cliche, but all your songs are like your babies, very difficult to choose favourites, however because I’m a silly old over-emotional man, I would pick out a couple that were not very successful but mean a lot both lyrically and musically to me due to the circumstances I was experiencing at the time I wrote them: “Across the Bay (This Letter to You)” and “Silver Bird”. There are many others and they all have background stories to tell because I like “story” songs.

As far as arrangements go, again not a very well known track by a brilliant singer songwriter I worked with, who sadly died very young, called Clifford T Ward. The song, “Up in the World”, I scored it for just Clifford’s voice and a large string orchestra (hankies at the ready!)

From a technical (and geeky) point of view, what is the most loved instrument or piece of studio equipment that you have used on your songs and why?

Back in the late 1970s I turned to writing and producing my own songs having had a decade or so of arranging other peoples work and wanted to step up to the plate myself! Luckily my first shot, “The Crunch”, went well and having made it mostly in my bedroom, using only what I could play – guitars, bass guitar, Hohner electric Piano and many effects pedals – this opened the door to the mystical murky world of production. I didn’t own or use any synthesizers on “The Crunch” but afterwards Roland Inc. gave me a couple of pieces of kit – the SH5 keyboard synth and a sequencer which changed my life ! Later I got a TR909 drum machine and a JX8P keyboard and away I went into tinkly wop bang electro heaven!. I still use these old skool sounds to this day.

Atjazz shares his thoughts on The RAH Band below…

Why does The RAH Band mean so much to you? 

I was 11 years old when I first heard The RAH Band in the TV room of the local youth club. Straight to the point, I’d never heard Jazz-Funk made with electronic instruments before, or at least realised what I was listening to before this and it literally changed my life.

What makes a The RAH Band record so unique?

Richard’s music is very individual as you can hear, his arrangement of instruments and the way he tells his stories is just brilliant, very catchy and nothing else sounds like The RAH Band.

When did you first hear The RAH Band music and what impact did it have on you? 

As I mentioned, I was 11 in 1985 and heard ‘Clouds Across The Moon’ on Top Of The Pops and I was struck with the music bug from then on.

What’s your most sacred The RAH Band record and why?

‘Messages from the Stars’ for sure! I suffered with Anxiety attacks for 20 years and it’s one of the few pieces of music that grounded me, I always felt a close relationship with that particular song.

Any standout memories from dropping an The RAH Band track in a set?

Again, ‘Messages from the Stars’ is the one. I had the pleasure of remixing the song and it became a bit of a hit in South Africa. Whenever I’ve loaded that song onto the dance floor people literally sing the chord sequence, then the vocals…  It’s always a magical drop!

How has The RAH Band impacted you as a producer?

I’d say not as much as me being a lover of his music, although I have always loved the way Richard made his bass lines so funky. I’ve definitely tried my hand at that, but I’d rather not pull his songs apart and work them out, I really love to listen to them as the whole thing and enjoy as a listener.

How did you approach this mix? What did you want it to say about The RAH Band and his music?

I just really wanted to celebrate his skills, give a diverse cross section of the songs I personally feel connected with and show how he can throw down a disco lick, a soothing 80s soul number and also go into deeper jazz-funk disco with songs like ‘Perfumed Garden’ & ‘Riding on a Fantasy’.

What would you say is The RAH Band’s biggest legacy?

Song wise, I’d say ‘Clouds Across the Moon’ is everyone’s favourite in the world of jazz, funk and soul – it’s so very cool and has a brilliant sound set. Again, and again he’s telling a story we can all connect with.

Tracklist
01. Perfumed Garden
02. Float
03. Out On The Edge
04. Clouds Across The Moon (Supanova Mix)
05. Sorry Doesn’t Make It Anymore
06. Blue Horizon Drifter
07. Downside Up
08. Messages From The Stars
09. Perfumed Garden (Atjazz Remix)
10. Are You Satisfied?
11. Roding On A Fantasy

Producer’s Choice will be released on 26th April on Atjazz Record Company.

 

 

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