Courtney Pine: Song (The Ballad Book)

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COMPOSERS: Courtney Pine
LABELS: Destin-E Records
ALBUM TITLE: Song (The Ballad Book)
PERFORMER: Courtney Pine (bass clarinet), Zoe Rahman (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 777102468X


Saxophonist Courtney Pine has said that musically ‘you have to know your past before you can contribute to it’, and this has always come across in his discs, whether exploring jazz and hip-hop in the 1990s, or Caribbean and World influences.

For his 16th studio disc he’s slowed the pace and taken the line-up down to just two – himself and pianist Zoe Rahman – for a selection of his ‘favourite ballads’. On bass clarinet Pine sheds fresh light on these gentle melodies, adding resonant depth or soaring solos, while Rahman captures each shifting style, easily compensating for the absence of other rhythm instruments. There are standards, like ‘A Nightingale Sang’ and soul songs from Donny Hathaway and Chaka Khan. In Ellington’s ‘Come Sunday’, scratchy vinyl and Indian tanpura drone effects inventively blend with stride piano. This heartfelt disc affirms Pine’s brilliant ability to re-define the music that has shaped him.


Neil McKim