Courtney Pine

DAVID WAKEFIELD Norwich Playhouse

DAVID WAKEFIELD

Norwich Playhouse

It is often easy to overlook just what an influence Courtney Pine has had on changing the face of British jazz. Not only has he helped open doors into areas such as hip-hop, reggae, drum and bass etc, but he has taken technical brilliance on to a new level. Most important of all, he brings a smile to the faces of his audience, as he did, effortlessly, last night.

His influences are equally diverse. Although obviously he leans heavily towards his mentor, the late John Coltrane, Pine moves with ease into other musical forms while never forgetting his roots. His latest album, Resistance - music from which formed his programme last night - reflects a current liking for Indian and Far Eastern sounds, mixed with a healthy dose of rock.

Translucence, for example, only needed a sitar to complete the picture; as it was, it featured a swirling solo on acoustic piano from keyboard man Chris Jerome. Rising Sun produced the most spectacular Pine solo of the evening, complete with 'no hands' circular breathing - it wouldn't be Courtney if he didn't do it! On Southern Skandinavian Blues we were told that “anything could happen” - and it did.

Virtuoso soloist that he is, Courtney Pine also surrounds himself with top men - notably the underrated guitarist Cameron Pierre and rock-solid drummer Robert Fordjour, who have been with him for years. Both had a chance to show off their skills, and Fordjour's duel with percussionist Donald Gamble was just one highlight. A packed house roared its approval for a pulsating performance.

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