In the 1980's British Jazz boomed. Exciting home grown talents burst on to the scene playing with style, wit and the incredible vivacity of youth. A classically trained pianist known for his crisp suits and clean-cut good looks, Jason Rebello was part of that scene. At just 21, his fluency and stylistic range was spotted by the great American saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, who took on the job of producing his debut album, A Clearer View which topped the JFM chart for five months.
A Clearer View October 1990 Novus PD 90527
Rebello was voted Most Promising Newcomer of the Year for 1988 in Wire magazine and then picked up several major Jazz Awards including the prestigious Pat Smythe award and The Perrier British Jazz Awards. He was labelled a veteran by critics.
"At 21, he's probably the most gifted and fluent pianist to emerge in Britain since Django Bates"
Janet Street-Porter capitalised on the youngster's talent when she asked him to present Artrageous, as part of Def II for BBC TV. Musically, Jason remained a popular attraction on the club circuit, and demand for a second album was satisfied in 1992 with the radically different Keeping Time featuring soul diva Jocelyn Brown and recently Oscar-nominated actress/singer Marianne Jean-Baptiste.
Keeping Time March 1993 Novus 74321 129042
Jason undertook a gruelling performance and recording schedule over the next couple of years including numerous appearances with other notable artistes such as Art Blakey, Bud Shank, Wayne Shorter, Gary Burton, Courtney Pine, Branford Marsallis, Tommy Smith, Jean Toussaint, Chaka Khan, Desree, Mica Paris, Carleen Anderson and Omar as well as promoting his own band. He also performed several classical concerts, appearing with the Nice Symphony Orchestra and the Halle Orchestra in 1995.
"...At the best of times Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" only hovers on classical music's borders, but with Rebello as soloist it positively charges back into the world of Jazz. His was a brilliantly executed performance, technically faultless, overflowing with vitality, yet always imbued with a sense of relaxation."
Make It Real July 1994 RCA 74321 224082 was Jason's third and final album for BMG. Yet another radical change of direction from his previous work. A return to a more acoustic sound, it was a heady mix of jazz, latin, soul, gospel and hip-hop featuring the vocal talents of Incognito's Maysa Leak and Joy Rose, the unpredictable Cleveland Watkiss and introducing the charming and consequently chart-topping rapper with Faithless, Maxi Jazz. The album yielded the single Summertime, an inspirational re-working of the Gershwin original voted a KISS Classic by KISS FM listeners.
Yet another sell-out tour followed, fans comprised of a dedicated core plus the newly converted, but there was a sense of urgency in the air as rumours were confirmed that this tour was to be his last. He strongly felt the need to address other areas of his life which involved spending a short period in a Buddhist monastery followed by a stint working at a computer software company. Before his departure from the music scene however he was to release one more album, this time on his own label with his vocalist Joy Rose.
Last Dance May 1995 All That Records 5017771103422 was just piano and voice.
After two years away from the jazz scene he returned to the stage for a sell-out solo/trio concert at the Southbank's Purcell Room.
"In terms of sheer ability and potential, Jason is probably the finest young jazz musician this country has produced. His playing has great poise and maturity, which is unusual in somebody so young."