When Chick Corea launched into Armando’s Rhumba at the Barbican, a couple of months ago during London Jazz Festival, the rise in energy in the hall was almost a physical thing such was the audience’s response to the crispness of the groove and the flowing, singing, melodic lines that Corea was spinning out. As Jason Rebello’s lyrical musings with contrapuntal lines between the hands teasingly morphed into an electrifying groove that introduced St. Thomas, I was reminded forcefully of that moment. A slightly rueful reflection on the comparison in price of the two tickets flashed across my mind, but the musical comparison is not an idle one. Not for nothing did Wayne Shorter book a 21 year old Rebello for a tour and produce his first album. That’s all well documented history now and re-told on this occasion to introduce Shorter’s ‘Yes & No’ later in the set and share Jason’s evident slightly bemused pleasure in how much his 15 year old son George likes the tune before they launched into the surging, post bop swing feel with a typically catchy Wayne Shorter hooky melody subverted by deceptively simple harmony and another blazing solo from the Rebello on piano. This gig was great reminder of ‘it’s not what you play, its the way that you play it’. The material was standards and a few pop classics. It was also a great compliment to the 15 – year old George Rebello on drums that there was not a hint of novelty turn about this. After about thirty seconds it was the music that was the winner and reminders of family relationships were in the evident delight in the exchange of ideas – more than once George caught rythmic phrases as they were played; family telepathy? – and fairly frequent, proud, references from Jason to ‘my son’! But it’s the way that Rebello senior plays them that’s stayed with me. Like many great players, I sometimes think I can hear every jazz pianist absorbed and re-worked in his playing and yet only he puts down just the perfect chord in quite that way to catch the breath at the resolution of ballad (Somewhere over the Rainbow, My Funny Valentine this evening of course), or makes a funky groove sound quite like that to set up a Stevie Wonder tune (Isn’t She Lovely!) or Grover Washington’s Mr Magic and makes even a digital piano sing (I had classically trained ears with me commenting on this). There were no concessions to the partners for the evening (George on drums and Vaults boss Wade Edwards). The pianists time- metre shifting, harmony bending fluency was unleashed on swing standards and classics (Bye Blackbird, Coltrane’s Some Other Blues) but the partners were equal to it and sounded like a seasoned unit. This was a delight and as the reprised the pyrotechnics for an encore on Cherokee there was nothing to do but to sit back, tap the foot (if you could move it that fast!) and grin along with the sheer delight of it.
Jason Rebello & Son, St. James Wine Vaults, Thursday 14th February