My Secret Life: Courtney Pine, jazz musician, 45


My parents were ... My father, Keith, was a carpenter and my mother, Violet, was a housing manager. They are both still alive, hardworking, traditional and determined to survive in this cold environment.

The home I grew up in ... was on Bravington Road in west London. It was one room, with a steel bath to wash the kids in, a paraffin heater and a black and white telly.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... an astronaut, then a doctor. Now I am a professor and a doctor of music, so I'm not too far off.

The first time I got drunk ... When I was 15 or 16 years old I was in various reggae bands. We used to play venues around the country and I'd often acquire – and then consume – a tin or five of Tennents Super from the bars we played. Those were the days.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... cycling, though I can't seem to find the time or the right weather for it in Britain.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... maths.

At night I dream of ... music.

I drive ... a Toyota Previa.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I would have been more determined to stay in school and fight the cultural bias of the early 1980s, which stopped a lot of people like me from achieving higher qualifications.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... Somebody who needs a haircut.

My favourite item of clothing ... SAS-style black combat socks. I wear nothing else.

I wish I'd never worn ... purple-tipped platform shoes in 1970s, which my mum used to dress me in as a toddler for trips to church and special occasions.

A book that changed me ... was 'Africa: Mother of Western Civilization' by Dr Josef Ben-Jochannan. It went against everything that I'd been taught about European history in school and opened my eyes to my cultural heritage. The last album I bought ... was a collaboration between Rudresh Mahanthappa and Kadri Gopalnath Kinsmen released on Pi records. Both men are Indian saxophonists: one was brought up and taught to play jazz in America, the other is an older southern Indian veteran who plays traditional music on his saxophone.

Movie heaven is ... Spike Lee's film 'She Hate Me'. It's a film that is full of everything: I cried, I laughed, the lot. That's what Spike always does: he comes up with things so out of the box.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is Felix Dexter. His humour is so deep you feel the pain afterwards. His punchlines make me feel as if he's lived my life; he understands life from my perspective at least. He has a way of conveying humour that's very personal to me.

The last time I cried ... was when my mother-in-law passed away.

My favourite work of art ... is the Sphinx in Giza. Even though it's damaged, it has an amazing power when you stand in front of it.

My favourite building ... is the Horniman Museum in south London. It contains every type of musical instrument you can think of.

My greatest regret ... Not practising the saxophone more when I was younger.

My five-year plan ... To provide a platform for talented jazz musicians to release music.

What's the point? Modern life is about the realisation of the constant battle between good and evil, the choice between selfishness and selflessness, yin or yang, heads or tails. If we side with negativity then we have to be ready to live (or die) with the consequences.

My life in six words ... Music reflects life / Life reflects music.

A life in brief

Born in west London in March 1964, the saxophonist Courtney Pine CBE is known for integrating modern styles, including drum'n'bass and UK garage, with contemporary jazz. Pine lives in London with his wife, Dr Jeune Guishard-Pine, and their four children. He will perform at Ronnie Scott's in London on 14 August as part of the Brit Jazz Festival. Visit ronniescotts.co.uk for details

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

SharePoint Administrator/Developer (C#, VB.NET, VISUAL STUDIO 2

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SharePoi...

European HR Director, London

£80000 - £95000 per annum: Charter Selection: A leading Global organisation Ja...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit