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Pine, Courtney

Publicat in: 20.04.2012, 05:31AM
Autor: Richard Constantinidi
Comentarii: 0
Vizualizari: 1557
Etichete: Chris Blackwell, Courtney Pine, Delfaeo Marsalis, Island Records, Journey To The Urge Within, The British Days
Pine, Courtney

The British Days were organized in Romania October 7 thru 9, 1999.

The British Council was celebrating its first 5 years in Romania through a series of events (music, theatre, conferences, parties) beginning on September 23rd all the way through to November 27th, 1999. I don’t remember any further events as large as this one during the following years on the British Council’s part in Romania.


Courtney Pine. 1999 Romanian Tour

    • OCT.7. Cluj-Napoca, Sala Sporturilor Sports Hall
    • OCT.8. Sibiu
    • OCT.9. Bucharest


I spoke to the respected musician, critically acclaimed artist and British avantgarde jazzman backstage in Cluj.


CZB: When did you become aware of your musical talent?

Courtney Pine: I don’t know. At the age of 13 I wanted to play music to annoy my parents because I could make this noise and I had to do it for school, so it was my way of rebelling. I didn’t smoke or stay with my friends late at night – I wasn’t into that kind of thing – but playing my saxophone, my mom would always say: turn off that noise – and I would say: well I have to do it for school. That was my way of rebelling, and I played really loud. In the end they kicked me out of the house – to play in the park but for me at 13 I latched on to the saxophone for that reason and at 16 it got serious. It got into something that:Hold on a minute. This is something. This is me! I could actually have my own voice. So I left school at 16 to join a reggae band (Clint Eastwood and General S.A.N.E. (Sounds Against Negative Expressionand here I am now... 

Also, I was playing for Ali CampbellMichael ProphetAswad, a lot of the reggae bands that were based in London: Freddie MacGregor – to name a few, any of the Jamaican sax, Jamaican reggae stars that would come over – I would be playing saxophone for them and I did that for about 5 years.

CZB: How did you get in contact with these bands to do this?

Courtney Pine: Well, I was just in the area. I was lucky first of all that my sister’s boyfriend used to work for a sound system and he just drove me around on Saturdays to different bands. He would say: do you like that one, do you like that one? And the band I liked had a friend of mine in the band and they were called the Anarchy Rockers and they used to battle these dogs and I was very fortunate to choose them because I was then able to play for many different people.

CZB: Your producer’s name is Delfaeo Marsalis – is he in any relation toWynton Marsalis, the great jazz artist?

Courtney PineYa. There’s ElvisBranfordWyntonDelfaeo and there’s another one called Jason, the drummer. They’re all brothers.

CZB: I’ve read that some critics have compared you to Wynton Marsalis.

Courtney Pine: In the early days, that’s due to the lack of education – British journalism: they didn’t know anything about jazz and they jumped to the first thing they heard about. I play sax and he plays the drum kit; he does classical music and I do reggae music – he’s just the nearest in the league they could try and connect me with.

CZB: How do you see the jazz scene developing into the beginning of the next millenium?

Courtney Pine: There are some very interesting artists out there. In America we have a situation where artists are signed to sound like somebody else. Take Harry Connick Jr. (Sony Music) who’s doing a very Frank Sinatra thing and then he had to go back to the basics – he cut a modern record but they didn’t like it (!) so now he’s back to doing the Frank Sinatra thing. You take an artist like Joshua Redburn who plays a very traditional jazz style. The American jazz tradition has this particular moment that has a lot to do with marketing. Musicians are very good. They go to college. They learn, they study, they play at a very high level but in terms of being innovative like Woody Coleman or Ben Webster or John Coltrane, there’s nobody in America. The System is not set up for that. 

Jazz music reflects life – like in the ‘60’s when you had “free jazz”, there was a lot of people looking for freedom. The music reflected that urgency, that scream for freedom. That’s why free jazz timing was then that way. 

Now we are in a period where we are being controlled and you can see that by the musicians that come out of America. You have someone as great as Wynton Marsalis playing in the style of Duke Ellington – being paid to play in that style. In the UK, in Europe, we have no jazz styles. You cannot be a jazz star because – oh, well, the Americans are better, it’s American music. So what happens in Europe, in England in particular is that we have to play other styles of music. We have to play rock, we have to play punk or whatever and our music – in terms of being jazz – is very diverse so the style that’s happening now in the UK with the musicians, like myself is that you have a young player who knows about Charlie Parker, who can play you a Charlie Parker solo but also he has a computer, he’s on the internet, he’s making his own tunes, he’s producing his own tracks, he’s sessioning for a local reggae band – we have a sort of duality in the UK – for musicians that are out now and I think this will be the future, but musicians are not just one-dimensional, paid to play in a certain way – but we have two concepts, like you saw us on stage, you heard some jazz but then you heard something else and this is the only way I can do this system in Europe. I think this will develop into something. Already we’re seeing musicians in America utilizing mixed styles – they call it electronica.

CZB: I read that you’re not being well promoted in America.

Courtney PineI wasn’t being well promoted in England. I didn’t have a record deal for three years. I got signed to America – but whether or not I’m being promoted I don’t know, I haven’t been over there, but I’m signed to an American record label.

CZB: When did you start singing professionally and when did your first album come out?

Courtney PineMy first album came out in 1986: Journey To The Urge Within and I was 16 when I started in the reggae band.

[reading this question now, after all these years, you must keep in mind that the internet was new and there wasn’t as much information going around about the music scene as there is now]

CZB: How did you put together your band?

Courtney PineI’ve actually been working with them for four years. When I came to terms with this concept in terms of mixing jazz with hip hop I met the programmer, the guy on the computer: Sparky – he was producing a rap band from London and they were using my track as a backing track and I enjoyed it so we started talking about mixing this kind of thing – and that was like 6 years ago – but most of the other guys I’ve known for like 4 years.

CZB: You collaborated with tens of other artists for the newer version of Perfect Day. How did that happen?

Courtney PineMy first record came into the national pop charts, I signed to Island Records and Chris Blackwell promoted me like a pop musician for playing jazz and it sold, which is… it will sell if you promote it properly – and so in the UK I’m quite known as a saxophone player – so I’ve done sessions with lots of people: Mick JaggerBryan FerryKate BushSoul II Soul, you know, people ask me to do sessions and Perfect Day was just another – oh let’s call it Courtney Pine procession – nothing big.

CZB: Are you married?

Courtney PineYes. Very much so. For 4 years. My wife is a psychologist and she just bought me a book called Fame. It’s about dealing with the psychology of fame so I think we’re going through a new phase of our marriage. She thinks my head is too big.

CZB: So she stays in England while you’re traveling on tours?

Courtney PineYes. She stays in Brixton. We have four children and we’re lucky that we have family nearby – grandparents, so we’re able to make things work.

CZB: You’ve been to Romania before?

Courtney PineYes. 7 years ago. I was doing more acoustic jazz stuff – with a suit and a tie – playing straight ahead. If you’d heard my early albums that Delfaeo produced straight ahead, in the style that real jazz was recorded in America but now what I’m doing is something totally different. It’s a stepping stone ahead.


CZB: What is the greatest difference you’ve noticed being back in Romania?

Courtney PineJust doing this concert here – there were so many people my age and younger which I didn’t have before ‘cause jazz is old people’s music. If  I was like 19 and somebody asked are you going to see a jazz concert, I wouldn’t go, you know, because jazz is for old people. Also, I wasn’t expecting there to be so many soldiers (men in army uniforms) brought in to keep the order. The people in the audience were not aggressive and had no aggressive intentions.



  • Journey To The Urge Within 1986
  • Destiny’s Song 1988
  • The Vision’s Tale 1989
  • Closer To Home 1990
  • Within The Realms Of Our Dreams 1991
  • The Eyes Of Creation 1992
  • Modern Day Jazz Stories 1995
  • Underground 1997
  • Another Story 1998
  • Back In The Day 2000
  • Devotion 2003
  • Resistance 2005
  • Jazz Warriors – Afropeans 2008
  • Transition In Tradition 2009
  • Courtney Pine Band Live 2010
  • Europa 2011



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