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Review: Courtney Pine superbly runs through the jazz playbook

Jazz musician Courtney Pine gave a superb performance at the Union Chapel in London.

Courtney Pine performing in London. — Image by © Tim Sandle
Courtney Pine performing in London. — Image by © Tim Sandle

Courtney Pine is an English multi-instrumentalist jazz musician (primarily for his saxophone playing), who broke into the UK Top 40 with his debut album (on Island Records) called Journey to the Urge Within.

On Saturday June 15th, Pine, together with pianist Zoe Rahman, played a set at an unusual venue – a congregationalist church in Islington (north London) that now doubles as a concert venue, called the Union Chapel.

Union Chapel, Islington. Image by Tim Sandle.

The Union Chapel proved to a superb venue in terms of atmosphere and acoustics, capturing every note of the recital – a celebration of timeless songs.

This turned out to be a night of classics stripped right back as a series of beautifully chosen ballads with Pine playing bass clarinet, always a complex instrument to master, accompanied only by Rahman on piano.

Pine proved to be as skilled on the bass clarinet as he ever was on tenor or soprano saxophone.

Many of the compositions were drawn from Pine’s last three albums: Song (The Ballad Book), Black Notes from the Deep and Spirituality. As is customary in jazz, and in an area that Pine excels in, many of the performances veered into unpredictable and exciting sequences of improvisation – veritable outpouring of notes and ideas.

Musician Courtney Pine at the Union Chape. Image by Tim Sandle.

Rahman is an accomplished English jazz composer and pianist in her own right and she too was able to take Pine’s music in new and vivid directions including some Thelonious Monkish chords. Her latest album is Colour of Sound, which features an eight-piece band.

One of the left-field compositions was a cover of the Welsh hymn Ar Hyd Y Nos (All Through The Night). Another intriguing number was a piece of music written for the former British Queen, titled Your Majesty.

Both artists engaged with the audience and produced some impassioned jazz.

Closing out with a version of Amazing Grace, which Pine delivered as a succession of octave shifts, the packed audience left delighted and also in reflective mood at this inspired, poignant closing number.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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