Jason Rebello – Held

held(Edition Records)

Jason Rebello has had a busy time as a pianist, from playing with Tommy Smith when they were both the new kids on the block, to touring internationally with stadium-fillers like Sting and rock gods like Jeff Beck.

After a return to spending less time in international airport lounges and more time teaching and making music in his own name, this album finds him back at his purest, with a grand piano and a bunch of just his own songs – with the exception of his arrangement of the Lennon/McCartney Blackbird.

What is most distinctive about both Rebello’s compositions and his playing is how broad in their influences they sound. This is maybe down to how much original music Rebello has always played – he’s not the kind of guy to have immersed himself in the American Songbook to the exclusion of everything else. Also, his initial classical training gives him a subtly different approach. But I think there is also an influence from what he has been doing during all those touring years: his writing is not rock or pop or soul but it has a melodic strength and an accessible immediacy that is shared by those genres.

Pearl has the kind of rocking rhythm within it that Brad Mehldau also favours, but then relaxes at times into a more lyrical mood before tightening again; Salad Days has a certain English quality to the tune and harmony and shows Rebello’s precise touch off a treat; Tokyo Dream has a little of the Ryuichi Sakamoto about it; and the title tune has the descending cadences and reflective harmony of an amalgam of Bill Evans and Eric Satie. And it’s great to have the “standard” tune there among the originals – he treats Blackbird to a flying and swooping contemporary kind of boogie-woogie.

Over 11 tracks Rebello confirms that all those various career experiences have indeed consolidated his art. A fine album which grows richer with familiarity.

  • You can hear Jason Rebello playing solo grand piano on the Symphony Hall stage on Wednesday evening. Supporting him in this Jazzlines concert will be young Birmingham-based pianist Jacky Naylor – a very different setting from his usual one as resident pianist at Bar Epernay in The Mailbox. It all starts at 8pm and is an intimate affair with the audience seated on the stage. More HERE.


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