So I have a piano lesson with Jason Rebello tomorrow, the UK’s best jazz pianist by a mile…. I ought not to be nervous as I had three lessons with him 12 years ago, and yet I am nervous. He is SUCH a good musician, and also quite candid, and like every music student, I am afraid my teacher may see through my inferior technique and puncture my fragile inner performer.
He is everything I want to be as a musician: melodic, engaging, inventive, playful, completely committed, original and yet with an intuitive knack of improvising tunes that sound like you’ve known them all your life. If jazz has pop stars, he is one.
Possibly his second biggest asset is an amazing rhythmic feel which, for my money, helped shake up the UK’s waddling swing feels in the late 1990s, just as Eminem’s bar-busting speech rhythms revolutionised rap. So many of us pianists try to ape Herbie Hancock’s synthesis of all swing, blues and funk styles, but very few succeed as comprehensively as Jason. Unlike most musicians’ rhythmic feels – most are habitual, and therefore recognizable if you know what to listen for – he obviously thinks about the context and appropriateness of different grooves, and can switch from Oscar Peterson-style swing to Keith Jarrett dreaminess, McCoy Tyner clipped modal playing to Gospel funk at will, occasionally in a single chorus.
I, however, am a long way behind in these things.
Ach well, whatever happens tomorrow I know it will be an eye-opener and a chance if nothing else to tell the great man what an inspiration he is!