John Rae recorded his first album at the age of sixteen with acclaimed Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith, and has subsequently recorded over 30 albums as a leader and side man. From 2000-2003 John was the drummer for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and in 2005 was awarded a prestigious ‘Herald Angel’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
John was appointed as musical director and composer for a specially commissioned and choreographed modern dance piece Off Kilter, which was performed at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre in 2010. The production mixed Scottish traditional dancing with modern dance, hip-hop, and traditional Indian dance.
He moved to New Zealand shortly after, where he has become a much beloved larger than life figure within the Wellington jazz scene, particularly as the front man for The Troubles. The group toured New Zealand in 2014 as part of the Chamber Music NZ Encompass series, and in 2015 performed at the Edinburgh International Jazz Festival.
In 2016 they premiered John’s Where the Wild Clematis Grows, commissioned for WW100 commemorations at the Edinburgh and Auckland Jazz Festivals. Other recent commissions include North to the Apricots (2016) for New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Wellington Jazz Orchestra and Happy for the Royal New Zealand Air Force Concert Orchestra.