SPECIAL DELIVERY: Omar with Courtney Pine (right)
IT’S BEEN over a decade since Courtney Pine CBE picked up the tenor saxophone, but having been inspired to do so by legendary guitarist Ernest Ranglin on a recent tour, the north London multi-instrumentalist is looking forward “approaching things differently” ahead of his UK tour.
Pine, 53, performs at the Barbican this month with Omar, the first show of a national tour where he will be introducing audiences to his latest album Black Notes From The Deep.
With over 30 years’ experience in the jazz music industry, which kicked off with his first album charting in the top 40 back in the 1980s, it’s both surprising and heart-warming to hear the celebrated artist talk about being nervous about how his latest work will be received.
“It’s more of a buzz now, because I am not sitting in a room with 10 people putting their 10 pence in, telling me that maybe I should do a track with Madonna doing lead vocals or anything like that. It’s my vision from start to finish now.
“It is risky, but I do feel more committed to this project, rather than having somebody else’s
ideas. As I am getting older, I am getting more experienced. I’m not saying I don’t listen any more, I listen even more to what’s going on.
“But putting all of my money, effort, time and energy in these projects is so much more fulfilling. When I go out and see a live audience and see their reaction to this seed of an idea and its fruition, it’s much more rewarding.”
Pine has had numerous BBC Jazz Awards, MOBOs, a Mercury Music Prize nomination and remained at the forefront of UK jazz with a contemporary jazz style that integrates modern British sounds like drum ‘n’ bass and UK garage alongside soul, hip-hop and deep-rooted influences from across the Caribbean.
Talking about where he sees the music scene today, he enthused:
“I’m lucky that being a jazz musician, you can embrace cultures, that’s what this gift of music has done for the world,” Pine said.
“Out of the terrible Afro-American experience, this amazing artform has developed. This language has developed which is inclusive of everybody.
“I’m so happy with what’s going on today, the scene is so exciting, there’s musicians from all over the world, there’s no closed doors.”
Asked why he entitled the album Black Notes From The Deep, Pine explained:
“I usually have a long essay title and because I am an instrumentalist, I try to get as much of the explanation in the title, so it’s like a story and then it edits down.
“But I’m old now, I don’t have to edit anything, I just leave it raw. It’s black notes from the deep.”
Looking forward to kicking off his tour, which sees him performing at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, St George’s Hall in Bristol, The Junction in Cambridge, the Tramshed in Cardiff and The Barbican in London – all taking place during March, Pine said it was always an honour to showcase his music and he particularly looked forward to the special moment of stepping on the stage with Omar.
“When my wife and I got married, his (Omar’s) song There’s Nothing Like This was our first dance,” Pine recalled.
“He’s an amazing artist, there were many from around my part of London, something I was always aware of.
“So working with someone like him who has hits, it’s something I’m looking forward to.”
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