What makes a good jazz club? Clear sightlines, decent acoustics, a varied program and cosy atmosphere are surely required. The 606 in the heart of Chelsea has always scored highly on these and a few more too, and the club is currently celebrating its 40th birthday with a fortnight of triple-headers featuring an impressive line-up of artists.
The mighty Lots Road power station opposite the venue may be under threat from luxury-flat developers (maybe the deal has already been done), but the 606 remains pleasingly unaffected.
On Friday night, pianist Jason Rebello performed in the company of club regular and drummer for the stars (Noel Gallagher, King Crimson, Sheryl Crow) Jeremy Stacey and bassist Mick Hutton, possibly best known for being the first bassist in Bill Bruford’s Earthworks. If Rebello was American or Scandinavian, he would probably be hailed as a piano superstar. As it is, versatility is his watchword, equally happy playing synths with Sting or Jeff Beck as he is performing solo piano recitals.
But it was a pleasure to hear him in straight-ahead mode here. Kicking off with Joe Henderson’s classic waltz ‘Black Narcissus’, Rebello almost immediately got into intriguing time games with Stacey, displacing the beat, adding odd emphases and generally having a whale of a time. Rebello broke off to reminisce about his history at the 606, remembering that he and Stacey met in the club during his late teens back when he was rapidly becoming the poster boy of the latest Brit-jazz revival. Stacey has also of course featured on several Rebello solo albums including his classic 1990 debut produced by Wayne Shorter.
And Shorter’s composition ‘Witch Hunt’ was next up, featuring a rich Rebello solo full of exciting subdivisions and challenging harmonies, and a subtle and affecting epilogue after Bill Evans. Stacey dug in on the McCoy Tyner barnstormer ‘Passion Dance’ (introduced by Rebello as ‘a tune about passion and dancing’!) while the pianist came up with endlessly creative lines over one chord. Cole Porter’s ‘Everything I Love’ was an elegant change of pace with a strong Jarrett/Standards Trio vibe.
The excellent set closed with what has almost become Rebello’s theme song, ‘Justine Time’, dedicated to his absent wife (her train was running late). It was another exemplary performance, befitting one of Brit jazz’s modern greats.