COMPOSERS: Courtney Pine
LABELS: Blue Thumb
ALBUM TITLE: Courtney Pine
PERFORMER: Courtney Pine (ts, ss, b cl), Cameron Pierre (g), Robert Mitchell (el p), Robert Fordjour (d), DJ Pogo (turntables), etc
CATALOGUE NO: 543 580-2 (distr. Universal)
Courtney Pine is a miracle worker: by fusing his own breathtaking Coltranesque improvisation with hardhitting hip-hop beats and soulful vocals, he has made the most exhilarating jazz record of the year.
Anyone who has followed Pine’s progress since the Eighties knows he could have continued to blow bebop tunes inside out and stayed a cult jazz hero. Instead, he embraced the street sounds he loves and took his horn to a wider audience. At the same time he elevated the pop art forms of reggae, soul and hip-hop to something elegiac.
This selection of mostly original compositions has strong melodies bounced along on brassy, funky arrangements. The overall sound borrows from Seventies ‘blaxploitation’ movie scores in the style of Shaft, but with the leader streaming endless dizzying lines over electronic beats.
Pine does not have a copyright on this electro-jazz synthesis – ‘hip-bop’ is becoming a sub-genre – but few have his combination of free-wheeling vigour and conviction. Dance to it, drive to it or dream to it: Back in the Day delivers on all levels. Garry Booth