My life in travel: Courtney Pine
'The world is smaller than you think'
Saturday 17 May 2014
Courtney Pine is at the Glasgow Jazz Festival (25-29 June; jazzfest.co.uk) and Love Supreme Jazz Festival (4-6 July)
First holiday memory?
Going to Jamaica when I was nine. It was a life-changing moment. Getting off the plane, the atmosphere was thick and rich. It had this kind of honey smell and taste to it. Then the journey to where my grandparents lived, up in the Blue Mountains, where the coffee comes from. It was just lush forest – perfect, secluded and self-sufficient.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Lindisfarne Island. I was asked to make a programme about it and make some music, so I went up and stayed for a weekend. It was so secluded, with such a small community, disconnected from everywhere. I really enjoyed it.
I turned 50 in March and spent my birthday on St Kitts and Nevis. It's the best-kept secret in the Caribbean and it's my favourite spot in the whole world. What did I do? I chilled. I think a holiday should be about relaxing and doing the things that you don't usually do.
What have you learnt from your travels?
The world is a smaller place than we're led to believe. Also, I've learnt that other societies have their own way of doing things. My thing is: I go around asking people for cold remedies. I've got quite an amazing collection now.
Ideal travelling companion?
My saxophone. We've just come back from Ethiopia. I did a radio show about the country and had the chance to play with some amazing musicians. The music is so different to what we play. It brought me to tears.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Chill freak. I do want to see some culture, but I'm not into museums. I could quite happily sit down, read a book, chill and listen to the insects at night. Maybe with a rum punch or two.
I'm a researcher, so anything to do with music or African literature. I recently read Yosef Ben-Jochannan's Africa: Mother of Western Civilisation and a biography about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor that was called Black Mahler.
Worst travel experience?
As a touring musician, the worst experience you can have is someone taking your instrument and destroying it. When I went to Portugal for the first time, they took my saxophone [at the airport] and broke it to bits. They claimed they couldn't fit it on the plane, so it had to go in the hold. Another time, I was doing a festival in Switzerland and they just didn't pack my equipment at all. There was just 10 minutes to spare and suddenly up came a van with my stuff.
The Marriott in St Kitts is a wonderful hotel. I always stay there. It's got great views, in a great location and the staff are just beautiful. They treat you really well.
I'm off to Osaka. It's not my favourite place in the country, but Japan is a place where all my fantasies about science fiction, technology and tradition come together. I really enjoy it.
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