Courtney Pine has been mistakenly placed on a pedestal by the media. Keen to praise him as the new redeemer of British jazz, they forget that he is only in his mid-twenties and still seeking an individual style. Nowhere is this more apparent than on this release, Pine’s third solo album. It also marks his debut as a recording artist in the United States and it’s his first session featuring American sidemen.
The material is an amalgam of Ellington, Carmichael and Mercer, plus compositions of his own. Three other standards — Just You, Greater Love and Billie Holiday’s Bless The Child complete the set.
The influences of Coltrane, Rollins, Dexter Gordon and perhaps a pre-war mentor or two clearly show through as Pine, with confidence and authority, leans towards yesteryear. It’s only when trying to assume a role of his own that he resorts to self-indulgent flights of technical expertise. These aside, this record shows that Courtney has much to look forward to. Nothing but praise could be heaped upon his warm, restrained soprano reading of Mellow Tone, and Old Cowhand compares admirably with Rollins’ famous Way Out West version.
Mention must be made of Ellis Marsalis, father of Wynton, Bran-ford and sleevenote writer Del-feayo. He is facile and sympathetic, has an abundance of ideas and is thoroughly musical. In fact, Mr Marsalis almost inadvertently steals the limelight.
Saxophone supremacy? Courtney is on course for more recognition. Convince yourselves by buying this album.
Introduction; In A Mellow Tone; Raggamuffin’s Stance; No Greater Love; Skylark (27.22) – I’m An Old Cowhand From The Rio Grande; God Bless The Child; And Then (A Warrior’s Tale); Our Descendants’ Descendants; CP’s Theme (26.13)
Courtney Pine (ts/ss); Ellis Marsalis (b); Delbert Felix (b); Jeff Watts (d). Recorded New York, 17/18/19th January, 1989.
Antilles New Directions AN 8746