Jason Rebello – Anything But Look ★★★★

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Lyte Records

Jason Rebello (p, kys, v), Tim Garland (fl, b clt), Paul Stacey (g), Pino Palladino, Karl Rasheed-Abel (b), Troy Miller (d), Omar, Will Downing, Joy Rose, Xantoné Blacq, Jacob Collier, Sumudu Jayatilaka, Alicia Carroll and Aja Downing (v). Rec. April 3-4 2013

Anything But Look finds Rebello recording as a ‘solo’ artist after a hiatus of a dozen years. Not that he’s been off the radar: touring with Sting and Jeff Beck has only enriched his musical palette. After such a break, the man must have had a mountain of material to record that may have led to a mighty mess. But although the album is eclectic in styles, it’s a release of refreshing unity. It’s held together by Rebello’s personal, spiritual journey that reaches a happy resolution (of sorts), as noted by the closing titles ‘New Joy’ and ‘Lighten Up The Load’.

As often occurs, though, the devil gets the best tunes, notably ‘Dark’, with its swirling, neurotic theme, illuminated by a deliriously beautiful vocals from Alicia Carrol. Indeed, all the vocals are outstanding, each voice picked to fit a theme. So the soul stirrer ‘Is This How?’ is gorgeously rendered by Will Downing while the latin funk of ‘Know What You Need’ zips along beneath Omar’s vocals. But it’s those keys you come back to. Rebello’s fave influences remain: Kenny Kirkland chordings scaffold ‘Man On The Train’; Corea’s rhumba groove is never far away; while Jan Hammer’s spirit inhabits the synth work, notably when Rebello elegantly entwines with Stacey on ‘With Immediate Effect’. And of course Hancock’s clarity and open musical mind underwrites it all. Even as a teen prodigy, Rebello received praise for his maturity; but now in his forties, a family man and educator, as well as having that rich career to draw upon, he’s produced an album that’s singularly soulful. Like Kenny Garret (or indeed old boss Mr Sumner) Rebello reveals that pop, soul and complex, jazz textures are not polar opposites but joyful places on the spectrum that is simply great music.

– Andy Robson