"The commitment needed to perform jazz goes beyond financial reward or the promise of fame most of the time. When I thought about my motivation, or the reasons for me wanting to be a jazz musician, one word summed it all up and that was devotion."—Courtney Pine
Courtney Pine, the UK's leading jazz saxophonist, returns with his ninth studio album, entitled Devotion. Four years in the making, the album features stunning vocal contributions from Carleen Anderson, David McAlmont and Jacqui Dankworth, and follows his critically acclaimed and award winning Back In The Day set (released in the UK in 2000).
Devotion encompasses many styles built on Pine's trademark jazz foundations, fusing Eastern/Asian influences with a variety of other contemporary global sounds. Known for his virtuosity and fluency on tenor and soprano, the saxman continues to reshape and push the boundaries with this self-produced album, which also features sitar player Sheema Mukhurjee of Trans Global Underground fame. Carleen Anderson of the Young Disciples sings the Joe Sample/Will Jennings composition, "When the World Turns Blue," and David McAlmont (of the UK pop duo McAlmont & Butler) also weighs in with an evocative interpretation of the John Martyn song "Bless The Weather."
"This is a record from a UK black musician with Caribbean, African roots and an outlook on his social climate that is reflected in sound," says Pine. "The highlight for me is the originality in bringing together so many cultures into one positive and unified whole."
A champion of uncompromising jazz, Courtney Pine was born on March 18, 1964, in London, England. He played with reggae and funk bands in school and always had an interest in many types of music. An admirer of John Coltrane, Pine quickly became one of the top tenors in English jazz. He played with drummer John Stevens in the '80s, formed the Jazz Warriors a few years later and began leading his own groups. In 1986, he toured with George Russell's Orchestra and played with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He released several records for Antilles and Verve, including the highly-acclaimed Modern Day Jazz Stories in 1995. Incorporating textural elements of hip hop, his 1997 release, Underground, was considered a benchmark jazz hybrid. Another Story, which followed a year later, featured remixes of the two previous releases.
A great introduction to Pine's work, Devotion has broad crossover appeal and the potential to take him further into the mainstream. Cool but never lite, its strong jazz foundations will find favor with his loyal fan base as well as continuing to appeal to the R&B/soul/urban audiences captured by Pine's earlier recordings and high profile collaborations.