In the UK saxophone scene, there are few names bigger or more iconic than Courtney Pine. Nick Webb visited the Eastbourne Centre to catch Courtney in action on his latest tour.
WHO: Courtney Pine & Zoe Rahman
WHERE: Birley Centre, Eastbourne, England
WHEN: 20th Feb 2016
Courtney Pine’s tenor and soprano saxophone albums have taken influences from jazz, hip hop, ska, caribbean music, pop, and pretty much any other style out there as well.
Eastbourne’s Birley Centre was set up in the round – the first time that (by his own admittance) Courtney Pine had ever performed in this set up – which gave a really intimate atmosphere to this concert.
The set was almost entirely made up of ballad covers performed with Courtney on bass clarinet.
The current tour that the duo is engaged in is in support of their acclaimed album Ballad Book – featuring covers of old songs ranging from “A Child is Born” to “Amazing Grace” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square”. Both on the album and in the two sets performed, the whole thing is a tribute to vocal music and melody in songs.
It is incredibly rare to hear the bass clarinet played as a lead solo instrument, and the tone that Pine was able to wring out was incredible. He made use of the full range of the instrument and extended techniques, from the very bottom notes, to playing with extremely high harmonics, multiphonics, and sub-tone slap tonguing.
The musical rapport that he has with Zoe Rahman was evident to see; with her taking as many and almost as long solos as he did, as well as supporting the melodies with some incredibly luscious chords and flowing lines.
The sheer enjoyment that Pine was having playing these songs was obvious, adding an extra song to even the first set, as well as wandering all around the performance space, where everyone felt like they were in the front row, filling the whole place with sound.
At the very least, this is a fantastic tribute to the importance of being great at doubling; saxophones, clarinet it doesn’t matter. Courtney Pine can get rich sounds and raunchy raw tones on any of them.
Check out Courtney Pine’s tour dates here: www.courtneypine.co.uk
About the author:
Nick Webb is a saxophonist and writer based in Brighton UK.