George Rabbai’s first national recognition as a trumpeter came when he joined the Woody Herman Orchestra, touring as a jazz soloist. During his two-year stay, Rabbai performed at jazz festivals and concert halls throughout the United States and abroad, and recorded with Herman on the Concord and Toshiba EMI labels. His unique style of scat singing prompted Herman to reinstate and rerecord the classic arrangement of the big band bebop hit of the 1940’s Lemon Drop as a vocal and trumpet feature. Lemon Drop is also the title of his premier CD, released in 1997, on DBK Records. George’s next CD with DBK, called “In Good Company” was released the following year.
After touring with the Woody Herman orchestra, Rabbai was selected as part of the Woody Herman All-Star small group, performing with artists like Sal Nistico, Jake Hannah, Nat Pierce, George Duvivier, Scott Hamilton and famous Count Basie tenorman Frank Wess. He has also performed as a soloist with the Concord Jazz All-Stars. As a leader, George has recorded with jazz greats Hank Jones, Rufus Reid and Mel Lewis for the Naxos label.
George’s lyrical trumpet sound is featured in the soundtrack of Baseball, a film by Ken Burns, which first aired nationally on PBS in 1994. He can also be heard in Burns’ epic documentary The West.
Rabbai has been currently working as a soloist behind vocalist Rosemary Clooney, and is featured on her “Demi-Centennial: A Girl Singer’s Golden Anniversary” television special for the Arts and Entertainment network. Most recently George has been working with vocalist Michael Feinstein and is featured jazz soloist on Feinstein’s double CD, “Romance on Broadway and Romance on Film.” George has also recorded with Margaret Whiting and was featured with Tony Bennett on his television special, “Tony Bennett With Love.”
Admired for his tone, phrasing and swinging style, Rabbai infuses his performances with humor and personality. From his exuberant scat vocals to his warm flugelhorn and wide array of assorted mutes, George’s musical colors fill the complete spectrum of jazz. His performing engagements have included Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall and the Famed Rainbow Room, as well as European jazz festivals, New York City’s St. Regis Hotel and many East Coast jazz clubs. An active jazz performer and educator, he is currently on the faculties of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and The Maynard Ferguson Institute of Jazz at Rowan University in Glassboro New Jersey. He makes frequent appearances at area schools as a jazz clinician, festival adjudicator and featured artist.