Born in Wandsworth, London, Rebello was classically trained and emerged in the late 1980s as a jazz pianist influenced by Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner. In his early 20s he recorded three solo albums, including A Clearer View (1990), his debut album, which was produced by Wayne Shorter and led to him appearing on the cover of The Wire magazine. Rebello also worked with Jean Toussaint, Tommy Smith and Branford Marsalis, and presented Artrageous! on BBC television. In his mid 20s he took a break from music to pursue interests in Buddhism. He later stated, "I think this was because I was enjoying a level of success that made me feel increasingly alienated."