Will Rast first saw Antibalas while a sophomore at Manhattan School of Music in 2000, at the now-legendary club No. Moore in New York. As a student of world-renowned pianist, Fred Hirsch, he focused on jazz improvisation and theory.
Shaken to his core by his experience seeing Antibalas that night, he was inspired to form his own large and small funk/groove related ensembles after returning home to Washington DC. After becoming well known as an accompanist and side man in multiple genres, including several tours with Grammy-winning pop singer, Mya and Argentine songwriter and guitarist Federico Aubele, he caught the ear of Eric Hilton, producer and co-founder of Thievery Corporation, and began working with him on several recording projects related to their label, ESL Music, including Thievery Corporation’s 7th studio album “Culture of Fear.” Another one of these projects was the fourth record by Ocote Soul Sounds, the exciting collaboration between Grupo Fantasma’s Adrian Quesada and Antibalas founder, Martin Perna. ESL also released 2 records by Will’s own project, The Funk Ark, the second of which (High Noon) produced critical acknowledgment that the group had become forerunners in the resurgence of the Afrobeat genre.
Having been a fan of keyboardist, Victor Axelrod for years, Will happily accepted an invitation to join Antibalas upon his departure from the group. After a hasty New York rehearsal session, Will played his first gig with Antibalas on the ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel show, January 30th, 2013 and has been hanging on for the wild ride ever since.
The Funk Ark will release their third album Summer 2014 on Ropeadope Records.