Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


May/June 2013: George Benson

Courtney Pine

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Courtney Pine is at the leading edge of British jazz. Known primarily as a saxophonist, he is also a master performer on flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, and keyboard.

Born in London to Jamaican immigrant parents, Pine has been adding his particular signature to the jazz tradition for almost three decades. His debut recording, Journey to the Urge Within, released in 1986, made the British Top 40, and launched a serious career. Since then he has released more than a dozen recordings as a leader, and become an international figure, working with high-level American artists like Delfaeyo Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson as well as an array of the best musicians and DJs from the UK. Among his titles: Modern Day Jazz Stories (released by Verve and shortlisted for Best British Album of the Year) and Devotion (the first release on his own label, Destin-e).

Pine’s music is adventurous, emotional, and playful. He draws on the contemporary urban sounds that power the UK music scene—hip hop, drum&bass, garage—as well as the dance energy of the music of Jamaica. His restless creativity has taken him in many directions, from making a film documentary of post-apartheid musicians in South Africa, to writing and performing for film, to hosting the long-running Jazz Crusade radio show on the BBC. He even appeared as himself in a jazz quartet in the Doctor Who serial, Silver Nemesis.

He has been an important figure in the UK, as a champion of jazz music and as an advocate for the black community. In recognition of his cultural contributions, he has received two honorary doctorates, and in 2009 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

In his newest recording, House of Legends, Courtney is still experimenting—this time with calypso, soca, and South African rhythms. No doubt Winnipeg audiences will be dancing in their seats on June 22 when he performs at this year’s TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival!


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