It’s all happening very fast for Courtney Pine these days. It must have been about eighteen months ago I first began to hear talk of a ﬂash young black saxophonist making a big impression in the London clubs; today. I‘m talking to the man many now see as the figurehead of the new British jazz (ofwhich more anon). Courtney has already bridged several gaps which looked unlikely not too far back: breaking through the funk/reggae monopolisation of young black players. the specialist (not to say ghettoised) status ofjazz in the eyes of the national media. the commercial stigma which held major record companies. and their accompanying resources. at arm‘s length. The most remarkable thing of all is that Courtney Pine has achieved all - these playing an uncompromising contemporary jazz. touching base on Rollins. Shorter. and above all Coltrane: no hint here ofany watered-down crossover tactics aimed at the mass market. On stage with his quartet (the Edinburgh gig will see Joseph Julian restored on piano, with rhythm duo Gary Crosby [bass] and Mark Mondesir [drums] retained from the band which burned up Glasgow last November). Pine isa fast. fiery. unrelenting player who leaves no space for anyone not committed to this music. Did Island Records apply any pressure for a more mass-market approach when their new signing went into the studios to record his
‘a growing interest in jazz‘
much-anticipated (and by jazz standards huge-selling) debut album last year?
‘No. I had a completely free hand on Journey To The Urge Within. In fact. the reason I signed with Island was that they were the only company I spoke with who wanted to give me that free hand. It sounds a little different from the live work because I used more musicians. and I was developing different things which
Kenny Mathieson meets the wave-making virtuoso young saxophonist and below considers the
distinctive sounds ofthose WhO’Ve gone before.
happened when we played live anyway. The next album will be a quartet album. but by the time I get around to recording in August. I‘ll probably be into something else. so it‘s hard to talk about it! Right now we‘re recording a Jazz Warriors
album for the label. so I'm concentrating on that.‘
The remarkable Jazz Warriors big band is only one of Courtney‘s other projects. The Warriors arose out of the Abibi Black Arts Association to which he has devoted much time and
effort. part of his ongoing concern with developing opportunities for young inner-city blacks to get involved in playing this music. The organisation now has a permanent administrator. and an office with a contact phone number: has his own high profile produced a concomitant interest?
‘Oh, yes. definitely. we get phone calls every day from people who want to know what is happening. It‘s increasing all the time. There is definitely a growing interest in playing jazz among young black musicians. The Jazz Warriors band is still our main project. but we are running some workshops and rehearsals at the centre in Paddington, and we are planning to organise a festival later in the year.‘
‘West Indian influence”
With fellow Warrior Gail Thompson getting a similarly enthusiastic response to her jazz classes over the river in Streatham. the opportunities to ease young black musicians away from the reggae-funk base have never been better. and already promising players are emerging in the wake of Pines ground-breaking progress. notably another Warrior. saxophonist Steve Williamson (‘Steve is a very serious player — he‘s the best thing I‘ve heard here‘). also recently signed to Island. The influence of West Indian forms. however. tends to come with them.
‘There has to be a strong West Indian influence. I came through playing with reggae bands myself. and a lot ofthe players in London are from that background. and not just reggae either. but all the West Indian musical forms. Every now and again you hear an obvious influence or a quote which gets slipped in. but even the mentality of the player will be different to. say. an American musician. because we have that specific musical background. That is bound to come out in our playing.‘
CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
BLOW BY B
THE SMOOTH ONE , JOHNNY HOOGES * Hodges' (1906—1970) alto saxophone is one of the sweetest sounds in jazz, whether coming from the Ellington big band or in one of his many small group projects. His unrivalled tone, rhythmic subtlety, and depth oi emotion mark him out in a generation at magisterial soloists like Coleman Hawkins, Benny
Carter and Ben Webster. implicit preface to bebop.
THE WEAHY BLUES ; TAKING FLIGHT
LESTEH YOUNG CHARLIE PARKER
Young (1909-1959) 5 Parker (1920—1955) 1 ~ invented a saxophone style i redefined the capability at ! " all his own, the antithesis. the saxophone as a solo j
ol the rich, hard-blowing l instrument in jazz, and l Hawkins. His light, , established himself as i melancholic tone is one oi possibly the greatest
the most instantly soloist the music has ever ; recognisable sounds in known. Bird's harmonic ' Ian. Young's work withthe and rhythmic experiments i
ow THE SAOPNESPECTR
Basie big band stands as an
tookiazza quantum leap lorward; bebop was the tirst great step from swing, and itwas Parker who showed the way. Peerless, but check Sonny Stitt and Dexter Gordon among the beboppers.
INTO THE STRATOSPHEHE JOHN COLTHANE
Coltrane (1926—1967) was the real heirto Parker's exploring spirit. Trane
spanned bebop to tree tan in a continual, unrelenting etlortto push through the harmonic and tonal barriers restraining his music, an inward-directed odyssey which produced the single most lertile evolution oI ideas in jazz. lntheir different ways, Eric Dolphy and Wayne Shorter belong with Trane lortheir enigmatic digressions lrom b0p roots.
THE BIG SOUND ‘- SONNY HOLLle Rollins (b. 1930)developed a hugely musculartenor tone, which remains his trademark. Something of the showman on stage, his penchant lor distinctly odd material never disguised the seriousness of his ex- plorations oi the instru- ment, nor his impeccable sense of structure in even the longest solos.
THING TO COME
OHNETTE COLEMAN Coleman (b. 1930) divides listeners taster than almost anyone else in jazz. The rules have never applied, in any sense, to Ornette's work, and his exploration oi the possibilities inherent in
f by-passing harmonics as g the basis of improvisation ,. created the most individual i; voice to emerge tromlree E. jazz.
The List 3 — 16 April 9