Jason Rebello and Pee Wee Ellis
Neil McKim enjoys a concert by Jazz pianist Jason Rebello and saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis at Bath’s American Museum
Pianist Jason Rebello, now 44, is still particularly remembered in jazz circles for his work from the late 1980s/early ’90s. His early albums managed to combine brilliant technique and critical appeal and a notable cover on Wire magazine, where he was proclaimed as ‘The Youngest Man in Jazz’. He also tapped into the commercial resurgence of ‘Acid Jazz’ in that period with his early albums such as A Clearer View and Keeping Time.
Despite his initial high-profile rise, he’s been notably absent for quite some time from the public glare and the reason is his long-standing job as part of rock star Sting’s band. But his name has remained highly esteemed in jazz circles and recently he’s been popping up more and more in jazz billings. Last week he was in the West Country doing a couple of concerts in the Bath area.
The second of these was at the idyllic setting of The Amercian Museum at Claverton, alongside former James Brown saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, who now lives locally.
The concert, part of a series run by the University of Bath, began with an apology – that the Bachendorff grand piano was out of tune. But it really didn’t matter from an audience point of view, as Rebello and Ellis produced a brilliant set of pieces, each having time to produce engaging solos. The programme featured Sonny Rollins tunes such as ‘St Thomas’ and ‘Doxy’ with, by request, Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man’. On this, Rebello and Ellis joyously took the piece to another level, as Rebello’s accompaniment became more syncopated and complex.
The purpose-built converted stable block, with its airy feel and sunny aspect seats about 120 people. For this full-to-capacity concert people were queuing up outside and peering through windows to catch this fantastic meeting of two current jazz greats.