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Devotion by Courtney Pine

It has been a while since Courtney Pine has released a CD six years to be exact and this British saxophonist has lavished great amounts of thought and time on producing his latest recording, Devotion, which Telarc licensed for distribution. Like many other CD’s that have special meaning for the artist, Devotion is a statement of belief a determination by Pine of the ultimate meaning of his experiences when he considers their common themes as lessons are learned and people are lost and monetary accumulation becomes less important than truths and exhilaration is moderated by humility. Or so he says. To the listener, the music of Devotion signifies Pine’s multi-cultural interests, his ability to electronically process sounds effectively and his all-consuming adoption of various musical forms such as free improvisation, hip-hop, raga, pop or funk.

Indeed, all of the performances on Devotion go beyond only Pine’s saxophone playing as he adds layers of sound through multi-tracking several of his own parts or as he mixes in percussion or keyboard, as well as things like the Ewi or electric tabla. Both the "Intro" and "Outro" provide summaries of what’s to come or what has transpired as Pine by himself sets up burbling energy, electronic soundscaping, movie soundtrack addition and timbral experimentation. Then the first full-length track, "Sister Soul," borrows from R&B, the three instrumentalists (including guitarist Cameron Pierre and drummer Robert Fordjour) accessing a total of twelve instruments to set up the funk as Pine wails and inveigles, borrowing from the spirit of Eddie Harris. On songs like "Bless The Weather," which David McAlmost sings (and so does Pine on the chorus), words remove the mystery of Pine’s music due to unsung thematic intentions as his thoughts become known, weather becoming a symbol for loss.

In the multi-cultural realm, Pine involves northern Indian instrumental contributions, accenting of course his work on saxophone, when "Transcendance" encompasses the sitar and tabla for a challenging of assumptions about metrical boundaries and tonal definition as microtones slip in. Pine goes it alone in investigating Indian musical concepts, while merging it with electronica, when he plays "Karma (With Respect To Pharoah Sanders)" on soprano sax and electric tabla machine for little more than a minute. "Osibisa" provides a chance for Pine to revel in Afro/Caribbean rhythms, particularly as percussionist Thomas Dyani utilizes a multitude of instruments, including shekere and caxixi, to achieve the overall effect under the trumpet call and baritone sax response. Strangely enough, "U.K." arises apparently from gospel origins for a spirited tour de force as Pine comprises his own reed section as he overlays electric tenor sax, baritone sax and Ewi for a funk approaching boogaloo. With a variety of styles representing Pine’s wide-ranging interests in the world’s music connected by his sophisticated mixing techniques, Devotion, diverse as it may be, creates a complete portrait bringing together Pine’s many influences for an uplifting statement of thanks and remembrance.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Courtney Pine
  • CD Title: Devotion
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Telarc
  • Tracks: Intro – Release, Sister Soul, Devotion, Bless The Weather, Interlude – The Saxophone Song, Osibisa, Translusance, U.K., Interlude – Karma (With Respect To Pharaoh Sanders), When The World Turns Blue, Everyday Is Everyday, Outro – With All My Love
  • Musicians: Courtney Pine (soprano sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, bass clarinet, alto flute, keyboard, Pro Tools, vocals, percussion), Chris Jerome (Wurlitzer electric piano, Korg Cx3 organ), Cameron Pierre (guitars), Peter Martin (basses), Robert Fordjour (drums) Guests: David McAlmont, Carleen Anderson (vocals); Byron Wallin (trumpet); Dennis Rollins (trombone); Robert Mitchell (piano); Yousuf Ali Khan (tabla); Sheema Mukherjee (sitar)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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