erfect Day for Pine
Saxophonist COURTNEY PINE is one man who can see the wood for the trees when it comes to mixing up the influences. Words: Kenny Mathieson
When the BBC decided to assemble the nation’s great and good for their recent lavish promotional campaign using Lou Reed‘s ‘Perfect Day’. there in the middle of it all was saxophonist Courtney Pine. It is hard to imagine any other British jazz musician of his generation being adopted for such purposes. but Pine has lived with the role of ligurehead of the so- called new British jazz since it broke in the mid-80s.
.\'ot that he was especially pushy about it: if anything. he has often appeared rather modest and inter-earnest in his pronouncements about himself and his music. He knows his own mind. however. and has never “WWW pine allowed criticism to deﬂect him from his chosen path.
Pine is also unusual among jazz musicians in that he seems to revel in his celebrity and his popularity with audiences. Anyone who has caught his band at almost any point in the last ten years will know that while Courtney works with the latest dance grooves and technology. he is also an old-fashioned showman at heart. milking the crowd with his perambulations around the house and spectacular athletic feats of circular breathing on notes held for agonisingly long periods. Crass. sure. but just watch it bring the house down.
l-lis alleged defection from serious. straight-ahead
'You have to look to within yourself, utilise your culture, your environment, the air that you breathe to express yourself. What comes out is an expression of what's going on.’
Courtney Pine: from jazz to jungle and back again.
jazz is largely an illusion. Right from the start. with his big-selling debut album Journey To The Urge Within in 1986. he has felt free to draw on funk. soul. reggae. and more recently hip hop and jungle as resources within an evolving musical language. which remains rooted in jazz and improvisation.
‘I would play a jazz gig. then go back to the hotel and play a jungle record. and I knew there must be some way to bring that side of things into what I did.’ elaborates Pine. ‘l’d done a bit of work with DJs here and there. starting with Jazzmatazz. but it’s always been from the funk or the hip hop side of things. never from the jazz side. I wanted to see what would happen if we brought them into a jazz band rather than the other way round. and made the turntables an integral part of what we are doing as ajazz group.’
Pine’s desire to reach a wider audience was bolstered by the fact that his straight jazz albums. although praised as his best by critics. have sold considerably less well than his more diverse projects. His new album. Underground. is the follow-up to his successful Modern Day Jr :3 Stories. and reﬂects a similar mix of jazz soloing over dance grooves. with a couple of smooth vocal tracks from Jhelisa thrown in.
His audience gets younger and more dance-music orientated all the time. as a cursory glance at any of his shows will testify. Courtney is trying to be true to himself and his environment. and if that ruffles feathers in the established jazz circles where he was once (if sometimes grudgingly) embraced as the great new hope. then so be it.
‘l'm not playing music that isn’t part of my being.’ he says. ‘You have to look to within yourself. utilise your culture. your environment. the air that you breathe to express yourself. What comes out is an expression of what’s going on.‘
Glasgow: The Arches, Thu 19 Feb; Edinburgh: Queen's Hall, Fri 20 Feb.
B i g m o uth
‘Sheffield may have been synth puff town in the 80s in the early 805, but there was always an edge. It was sheet-metal workers by day, Gary Numan lookalikes by night.’ Jamie Fry, keyboard man rather than ’synth puff’ with Earl Brutus, explains how the New Romantics were subverted in the North.
’Mike had consulted a faith healer and on her advice had taken to wearing green combat fatigues to fight the cancer as a form of physical and psychological protection and as a visual staement to himself and the people around him that he was in what he describes as a "psychological combat zone'".
A press release for Mike Peters of The Alarm tells of the methods he used to fight throat cancer. You may scoff, but the sawbones have given him the all clear. Rumours that combies are to be available on the NHS are unconfirmed at the time of going to press.
'There's a couple of people, not many, that I would have no qualms about putting a gun in their mouth and blowing out their fucking brains. I wouldn't even have a bad nightmare about it.‘
Shaun ’shooter' Ryder spreads a little happiness.
'Most of his disciples was thugs carrying guns. Well, they had swords. That's the true story about the life of Christ. He sat drinking wine and kicking the knowledge around the people.’
Kil/ah Priest gets a tad theological although scholars are still trying to trace exactly which book of the bible he gets his info from — the gospel according to Marky ’Mo Fo’ Mark perhaps?
‘lt's all been done before. that's the thing. The telly's been thrown out of the window, the motorbikes have gone into the swimming pools with Keith Moon on the fuckers. Everything you can think of has been done.’
Stuart Stereophonic mourns the passing of traditional rock star debauchery.
6-19 Feb 1998 THEIJST“