Sholto Byrnes: Talking Jazz
Friday 04 November 2005
Britain's premier saxophonist is still at it today, railing against the "jazz police" he thinks are ever-ready to caution him for deviating from the path of jazz purity. But much of the aggression has gone. This is as well, given that his new album Resistance has been very well received, despite it being as far from a purist's idea of a forward-looking jazz recording as is possible.
Anthemic songwriting - he admits the influence of The Beatles - stands alongside tracks indebted to the late Eddie Harris, thrashy, guitar-laden numbers and Seventies jazz rock. So far, so retro; the album, which he will showcase on a UK tour and at the London Jazz Festival, neither pays homage to the old tradition so important to the Marsalises, nor does it open up the new territory leading jazz musicians are supposed to seek out.
But Pine should not be censured. His mission now is to bring jazz to as wide an audience as possible, and even if some of his new material could justly be filed under "rock" were a vocalist to replace his soprano and tenor saxes, the jazz element is alive, well and roaring in his terrific, exuberant soloing.
This, it strikes me, is a better way to bring jazz to new audiences. No one could fail to be moved by his fiery improvisation, and improvisation is at the very heart of jazz. The other populist path - dressing up familiar tunes by having them performed by young singers who look good on Parkinson - fails to provide a real flavour of jazz, because none is a good enough improviser.
As for the retro charge, it could be said that Pine is helping to conserve the tradition, too; it's just that the period he partly looks to is a decade that acid jazz and hip-hop were happy to revisit, but mainstream jazz was not - the Seventies. There was the odd gem then, and some were in Eddie Harris's idiosyncratic output during that time.
Where is Harris's music now? Jamiroquai were pleased to sample the great Eddie, but his name is hardly hailed among the jazzerati. So Pine does us all a favour by taking a leaf out of Harris's quirky, but always funky, book.
Another saxophonist whose prime was in the Sixties and Seventies, and whom Pine is happy to admit nodding towards, is Stanley Turrentine, the possessor of one of the richest, raunchiest tones ever produced on the tenor sax. Turrentine was not averse to plumbing the depths of Seventies superorchestration, but he always remained at his core a jazz musician.
Some of Turrentine's laidback approach seems to have rubbed off on Pine. He sounds now like a man having a lot of fun, and it's infectious. The critics, he says, may stand at the back of the hall nursing their pints; he's playing for the crowd dancing in front of them.
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Gaza Banksy mural sold to 'conman' for just $175
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
Top Gear live to go ahead: Jeremy Clarkson to join Richard Hammond and James May... just don't call it Top Gear
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men