Coming Soon: Jazz veteran is still Pine fresh

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The Independent Culture

With a rousing new album, a CBE gong to add to the OBE he’s held since 2000, and a new national tour of Afropeans, his powerful Abolition 200 commission premiered at the Barbican in 2007, saxophonist Courtney Pine (pictured) is on a roll.

The Afropeans tour, which begins at London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East (020-8534 0310) on 8 March, is particularly significant in that Pine appears with a reinvigorated version of the Jazz Warriors big band that he helped to form in the 1980s, who became a showcase for the new generation of British jazz musicians. This time round, there’s a similar passing-the-baton feel to the line-up, which features rising stars such as saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson alongside relative veterans Jason Yarde and Omar Puente.

Subsequent dates include St George’s, Bristol (0845 40 24 001, 12 March); the Sage, Gateshead (0191- 443 4661, 21 March); Playhouse, Oxford (01865 305305, 23 March); Town Hall, Birmingham (0121-780 3333, 26 March); Lighthouse, Poole (0844 406 8666, 27 March); South Hill Park, Bracknell (01344 484123, 28 March); and Waterfront, Belfast (028-9033 4455, 29 March).

Pine’s date at the Sage forms part of the Gateshead International Jazz Festival, which runs from 20 to 22 March (details from The bill includes a free jazz night with Spring Heel Jack and guests; a celebration of Duke Ellington with the Northern Sinfonia; and the excellent Joshua Redman Trio, who also play at London’s Ronnie Scott’s Club (020-7439 0747) on 21 March.

Other festival dates worth noting include the appearance of Jerry Dammers Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra as part of East at the Barbican (020-7638 8891, 10 March,); the ECM Live Week at King’s Place, London (020-7520 1490, 19 to 21 March), and pianist Brad Mehldau at the Wigmore Hall (020-7935 2141, 9 April), which heralds the beginning of an ongoing association with the venue. There’s also a short tour by Benin-born guitarist Lionel

Loueke, who made such an impression as part of Herbie Hancock’s band at the London Jazz Festival. Loueke’s trio plays at the Glee Club, Birmingham (0871 472 0400, 18 March), St George’s, Bristol (0845 40 24 001, 19 March); the Sage, Gateshead (0191-443 4661, 20 March), and the Vortex, London (020-7254 4097, 21 March).