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Courtney Pine Biography

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Courtney Pine In-depth Biography

Courtney Pine} is perhaps the most enigmatic of late 20th century British jazzmen; he has consistently fascinated and frustrated critics with a restless and adventurous musical vision that has brought world} music, pop}, reggae}, electronica}, funk}, and soul} to sit in with the jazz} tradition on his recordings. Born in March 1964, Pine} spent his youth in London, learning to play multiple instruments, including saxophone (he is proficient on tenor, soprano, and baritone), clarinet, flute, and a host of keyboard instruments. He cut his jazz} teeth with the hard bopping} Dwarf Steps}, before leaving to tour and record with reggae} stars General Saint} and Clint Eastwood}. Pine} went back to the jazz} root, studying Sonny Rollins}' and John Coltrane}'s improvising styles while participating in drummer John Stevens}' jazz} workshops before he became a part-time member of the Charlie Watts Orchestra}. Pine} left to tour with both George Russell} and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers} before recording his debut album, Journey to the Urge Within} for Antilles}. That disc propelled Pine} into the public consciousness with its U.K. Top Ten smash "Children of the Ghetto."} The album was also reviewed favorably in the U.S. and sold respectably.

Pine} remained with Antilles} through 1992, issuing four more albums with the label, 1987's Destiny's Song + the Image of Pursuance}, 1989's The Vision's Tale}, Within the Realms of Our Dreams} in 1990, and his first reggae} outing, Closer to Home}, in 1992. Throughout the early '90s Pine} also guested with U.K. soul} chanteuse Mica Paris}. Also during 1992, Pine} signed with the 4th and Broadway} label and issued the revolutionary To the Eyes of Creation}, which fully engaged his myriad interests in African and East and West Indian musics and melded them with jazz} improvisation}. Eyes of Creation}, Pine}'s live album, was released by Island} in 1995, just prior to his signing with Verve}.

While with Verve}, Pine} issued his first complete jazz} outing in Modern Day Jazz Stories}, recorded with an American band that included Geri Allen}, Mark Whitfield}, Eddie Henderson}, and Charnett Moffett}, and featured vocals by Cassandra Wilson} and the Angelic Voices of Faith}. Jazz} purists were almost delighted, and hoped Pine} would now stay put in the bosom of tradition so they could laud him as the new Coltrane}. Pine} frustrated them by employing hip-hop} turntablism} on 1997's Underground}, which included drum and soundscape programming alongside DJs and a band that included Jeff Watts}, Whitfield}, Reggie Veal}, Nicholas Payton}, and Cyrus Chestnut}. Pine} pulled another rabbit out of the hat for 1998's Another Story}, issued by Talkin' Loud}, wherein he invited a host of electronica}'s finest DJs -- Roni Size} and Attica Blues} among them -- to remix tracks from Modern Day Jazz Stories} and Underground} as drum'n'bass} crossovers. It was his last record of the 20th century.

Pine} issued another award winner with Back in the Day} in 2000; it was a modern tribute to the funky soul-jazz} and Afro-funk} sounds of Gary Bartz}, Fela}, Manu Dibango}, Eddie Harris}, Idris Muhammad}, and Bernard Purdie}, all of whom were a big part of his musical development in the 1970s. His all-British band was augmented by guests and DJ Pogo}. It was his first recording not to be simultaneously released in the United States. Pine} scored the two-part BBC} documentary Nelson Mandela: The Living Legend}, which aired in 2003, and released Devotion} at the end of the year in Great Britain and in July 2004 on the Telarc} label in the U.S. Once more Pine} nailed together disparate harmonic, rhythmic, and dynamic elements from Africa, the Caribbean, jazz}, soul}, and Indian musics, taking his adventurous discourse into new and previously uncharted territory on his most satisfying project to date. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

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