It is most overt in Courtney‘s work with the World‘s First Sax0phone Posse. a quartet with Michael Rose (who did sterling work with the mighty Aswad). Andy Hayward. and Ray Carlos. which he describes as ‘a sort of reggae-based music. with us improvising over the top.‘ Courtney has been studying what he
soared to the top
pointedly calls Afro-American classical music lor g enough to know the West Indian inﬂuence on American musicians, from Rollins’ calypso to Lester Bowie’s reggae pastiche, but that influence is more direct. more deeply ingrained over here.
‘The Posse should be getting together again soon to do some work — we have all been off doing other gigs for a while. but we are back in the country now and ready to get something together soon. But a lot of things feed in to my music — I‘ve been listening to a lot of African music recently, and that might emerge by the next album. I've been studying American jazz players for quite a while, so I decided it was time to take a closer look at the African roots of the music.‘
Pine‘s meteoric rise through the jazz rankings was recognised at the highest level last year when. after a fruitful collaboration at the Camden Jazz Festival in London. the young tenor was invited to New York to rehearse with those pillars of hard bop, Art Blakey‘s Jazz Messengers, leading to a flattering invitation to join the band. On his return to London to do some recording, and
after much agonising. he opted to stay and develop his various projects for the time being. Heady stuff for a relative beginner: how do you keep perspective when you are compared, for example. with John Coltrane?
‘You can’t get beyond Coltrane. You can study him. but you have to take it from a different angle. I have to maintain an approach where I must do the best I can. but I have to play something else. something that’s not been played before. I have to cover different ground. find my own style. That all takes time.’
And how about carrying that burden ofbeing the figurehead ofthe new British Jazz!
‘I haven‘t got time to think about any of that — l have to think about my scales. The only difference I am really conscious of is having less time to practise; I have to do in two hours what I used to do in six. But there are a lot more players coming through now. which is great for me. I don’t want to be the only one up there, you know.‘
Courtney Pine is at Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on 6 April, in a fortnight when virtuoso sax playing can be heard in two other concerts at the Queen's Hall. Wayne Shorterand his group play Edinburgh on 10th and they are preceded by Jett Freedner, Chick Lyall and Sandro Ciancio as part ol The Wire Choice, on 3rd. See Jazz.
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10 The List 3 — 16 April