Jazz Appreciation Month - Courtney Pine
It's the last week of April so this is the last in the series of blogs about inspirational jazz in recognition of Jazz Appreciation Month. This week, I'd like to talk about Courtney Pine, an incredible saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist, whose music and talent I've admired for a long time.
For anyone that doesn't know Courtney Pine, if you've ever watched one of those TV shows where people's houses are redone, in the montage section you've probably heard Pine's The Jazzstep from his 2000 album, Back In The Day, played over the top of said montage. Having said this, that wasn't my first introduction to Courtney Pine.
I've mentioned before how my parents were the source of a lot of my music tastes but having a brother three years older than me, who would begin to have the freedom to buy his own things, meant that, while I was getting all the golden oldies from my parents, I was getting all the new stuff from my brother, Courtney Pine's 1998 remix album, Another Story, being one of them.
This was an amazing album and my first taste of mixing jazz with other genres; in this case drum and bass. It took songs from Pine's earlier albums, 1995's Modern Day Jazz Stories and 1997's Underground, and had producers that included Roni Size, Peshay, and Flytronix mix them with electronic and drum and bass styles. I enjoyed the album so much that I went and got copies of the two albums used and found the original songs to be just as good.
I've managed to see Courtney Pine perform twice. The first of which, was a small jazz concert where I heard the beautiful and mesmerising sound of jazz being played on the bass clarinet and alto flute live for the first time. The mellow tones Pine produced washed over me like a revitalizing shower. Afterwards, I knew I had to make sure that the next time Pine was performing in Bristol, I would be the first to buy tickets.
Over the years, I've managed to dig up more of Pine's albums and came across the few releases of his Jazz Warriors, a group which provided the opportunity for black musicians to showcase their talents. Listening to these amazing musicians led me to listen to more of the band members like Tony Kofi, Jason Yarde, and Dennis Rollins, all of whom I've had the privilege to see perform, and the latter to perform with.
The original lineup of the Jazz Warriors had sadly dispersed in 1994, so I was hearing their music long after they disbanded. However, in 2007 Pine formed a fifteen-piece lineup called Courtney Pine's Afropean Jazz Warriors. As I had told myself, as soon as I found out they would be performing in Bristol, Dad and I bought tickets. It was a fantastic gig and I didn't hesitate to buy the album they released a year later, 2008's Afropeans.
THE URGE WITHIN
To this day, I'm still able to recall the feeling I had of hearing both the bass clarinet and alto flute play the smoothest jazz I have ever heard. Courtney Pine is an incredible musician and if I ever have the disposable income, and the time, I will fulfil the urge I've had since first hearing Pine play, to buy myself a bass clarinet and learn all the amazing melodies Pine has come up with over the years.