Jason Rebello - Anything but Look
(Lyte LR021. CD Review by Rob Mallows)
“Not before time!”
So said the guy behind the counter at Ray’s Jazz in Foyles as I bought a copy of Jason Rebello's new CD...
“It’s good to see he’s back on the scene”, he added.
I couldn’t disagree. It is good to see Jason Rebello back.
Rebello’s first two albums, A Clearer View and Keeping Time, still regularly feature on my iPod playlist. They were my gateway drug into jazz: modern, hip, not-afraid-to-mix-it-up-kind of albums and I loved them.
Yet this nineties jazz pianist wunderkind pulled the plug on his recording career after a decade, thereafter playing with Sting and artists such as Jeff Beck. With no original music since 1999’s Next Time Round (unless you include his 2007 low-key jazz for kids record Jazz Rainbow) this album is a welcome return to recording form.
Backed by Jeremy Stacey on drums, brother Paul Stacey on guitar and Pino Palladino on bass (another titan straddling the two worlds of jazz and rock), the quality of the playing is super-tight and well mixed by drummer/producer Troy Miller.
These things are matters of taste, but for me Rebello is a little too reliant on the soul vibe with some of the vocal collaborators. Full-on soul does have its way of pushing jazz off into a quiet corner. Fellow early nineties jazz-soul phenomenon Omar opens the album with Know what you need and reminds me why his career faded somewhat. In contrast, the funk feel of New Joy, with regular Rebello contributor Joy Rose, works much better. Dark Night of the Soul has a very insistent left-hand melody and atmospheric vocals by Alicia Carroll which are a bit left field but totally work for this song. There's also a guest slot for rising star Jacob Collier.
The strongest tracks are the three instrumental tracks including Without a Paddle - which recalls the sounds of his earliest albums - where the band have space to open up and Rebello can demonstrate that he’s still got his contemporary jazz chops in spades. His recent show with this band and album material at Ronnie Scott’s, and this album itself demonstrate that Rebello has lost nothing of the inventiveness and joyful musicianship of his early years.