Jason Rebello ‘Anything But Look’ (Lyte Records) 3/5

anythingbutlookAfter what seems like a long absence, multi-keyboardist Jason Rebello returns with an album that showcases his ability to appeal to a wide audience and that explains why seven out of the ten pieces are vocal driven. Of these, the pairing of Rebello with Will Downing works best with the jazz empathy of the latter ideally suited to the leader’s sensitive musings. On the moody ballad ‘Is this how?’, in Rebello Downing has clearly found the perfect accompanist and a whole album between the duo might prove to be a fruitful experience. The opening number on the album, ‘Know what you need’, impresses and features the vocals of Omar harks back to the 1970s and Herbie Hancock’s explorations of the fender Rhodes on an uptempo number. In contrast, the title track is a gentle piece with a lovely bass undercurrent and Rebello transfers from acoustic in the first part to a delicious fender solo in the second. For fans of jazz-rock, ‘Without a Paddle’, with its staccato piano rhythm, will enthrall and features the guitar playing of Paul Stacey who takes an extended solo. If the album could be described as a kaleidoscope of sounds encompassing Latin, funk and rock elements, this may also, paradoxically, be it’s Achilles heel; it tries to appeal to too diverse a listener and ends up at times somewhere in-between. More emphasis on the keyboard work where Jason Rebello truly excels would be this writer’s recommendation with, perhaps, two or three vocal numbers by one vocalist alone to help aid the promotion of the album. As it stands, this new recording should nonetheless appeal to listeners beyond jazz and, judging by reports of recent acoustic trio concerts, Jason Rebello is still fully capable of coming up with the musical goods in a live setting. Sporadic concert dates around the country include an appearance on April 30 at the annual Cheltenham Jazz Festival. A date to watch out for in your diary. Tim Stenhouse