Jon Anderson: Teaming Up With Ex-Yes Members Rick Wakeman And Trevor Rabin

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photo credit: William Philbin

photo credit: William Philbin

Jon Anderson and the band he used to front, Yes, went their separate ways four years ago.  But his latest projects are of interest to Yes fans: his most recent release, “Open,” is a four movement, 20 minute song available as a digital download.  In 2010, Anderson and former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman released an album together, The Living Tree, and last year toured and put out The Living Tree In Concert Part One (Part Two will be released later this year).

But what might really excite fans is the rumor that Anderson and Wakeman have been working with yet another Yes alumni: guitarist/singer/songwriter Trevor Rabin. Anderson confirms that the project is in the works: “We talked about it, we wrote a couple of things together, Trevor got sidetracked, we talked about this year.  We haven’t really finalized a time. It’ll happen when it happens. That’s my new mantra: ‘It will happen when it happens.'”

Although Wakeman and Rabin weren’t on any of the same Yes studio recordings, Anderson notes that they got along when they were part of the eight man Yes tour of 1991.  But Anderson reveals that there was tension between Rabin and the band’s other guitarist, Steve Howe, during that trek:  “A classic moment was when Steve came over to me and he said, ‘Can you tell Trevor to turn it down?’ So I said ‘OK…’ I went over to him and said ‘Trevor, you’re doing very well!’  I left it at that, I didn’t want to get involved!  But that was a great tour, and thankfully we did it.”

If the idea of ex-Yes members forming a band and touring while Yes is still active sounds familiar, there’s that’s because it’s happened before.  In the late ’80s, Anderson, Wakeman, Howe and former Yes drummer Bill Bruford formed Anderson Bruford Wakeman & Howe, released a very Yes-like album (including artwork by famed Yes artist Roger Dean) and toured, playing mostly Yes songs.  So, the question is, is there any chance of Anderson, Wakeman and Rabin hitting the road and playing Yes songs?  “No, I don’t think so.”

The spirit of classic Yes lives in Anderson’s “Open,” and he says he plans to keep putting out epic-length songs on his own. “I worked on it last year on a acoustic guitar.  I started putting different songs together, and it became 20 minutes long.  I was very pleased. I’ve always wanted to keep doing long pieces, I think I’ll do one every other year now.  I’ve actually finished my second piece, which is called ‘Evermore,’ ‘Forever’ or ‘Ever-something.'”

Another ongoing series of music Anderson has been working on is his Survival & Other Stories albums, which sees him collaborating with fans via his website. “I put an advert on my website asking for music.  Musicians from all over the world — people from  Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Los Angeles and Liverpool — sent me music. I picked out all the ones I thought I could work with.  I have up to five or six hours of music ranging from radio songs to longer form pieces to children’s musicals to a couple of crazy operas about crazy things.  I’m jumping right around the musical globe from world music to classical music to acoustic songs. I’m actually going to put out another volume later this year.”

As for the possibility of rejoining Yes, Anderson is hopeful, albeit with managed expectations.  “We’ll see what happens in the future.  I’d never say no, if it happens with good will and honesty and Rick’s there, I’d love to do it.  I bumped into a good friend who says he’d love to produce it.  And I said ‘Well, good luck!’  We’ll all keep our fingers crossed.”

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