No one better embodies the dramatic transformation in the British Jazz scene over the past twenty years than Courtney Pine. The saxophonist heads a new generation of exciting and innovative musicians who have chosen to turn their talents to the demanding requirements of jazz music, in all its shapes and forms.
His debut album, 'JOURNEY TO THE URGE WITHIN' in 1987, was the first serious jazz album ever to make the British Top 40, notching up sales to qualify for a silver disc. It was a remarkable achievement in British jazz history and established Courtney Pine as the leading figure in the British jazz scene and an inspiration to many young black musicians.
'Modern Day Jazz Stories' was also one the prestigious Mercury Music Prize - '1996 Albums Of The Year' and Courtney was honoured with a MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) Award for 'Best Jazz Act' for two years in a row (96 and 97).
March 1998 saw the release of a remix album 'ANOTHER STORY', with tracks taken from 'Modern Day Jazz Stories' and 'Underground', remixed by some of the most prominent drum and bass artists in the UK, perhaps most notably Roni Size who also picked up a Mercury award for his debut album.
Album number eight, 'BACK IN THE DAY' was released in September 2000 with stunning vocal contributions from Beverley Knight, Lynden David Hall and Kele Le Roc. Again media attention was high and Courtney delivered - with widespread critical acclaim, more award nominations and radio support for the album and chosen singles.
His follow up 'DEVOTION' featured vocal contributions from David McAlmont and Carleen Anderson and was released through his own label Destin-e Records in 2004 with reviews heralding Pine again ‘at the forefront of British Jazz’.
Since then he’s taken another step forward through Destin-e Records with his most recent album ‘RESISTANCE’ which Jazzwise reviewed as ‘his best album in the story so far’,. Released in October 05, Resistance, explores waters previously uncharted by the UK’s premier saxophonist. It’s an album that’s as eclectic in its emotional range as it is consistent in its determination to groove hard and from the heart.
In addition to his recording career, Courtney is now a renowned presenter and broadcaster, with his long running radio show for BBC Radio 2, ‘Jazz Crusade’. He also presented a weekly show The Courtney Pine Xperience for the jazz in 2007/2008 and is a regularly heads up profile television projects.
In 2000 he travelled to South Africa to make a documentary for the BBC on the local musicians whose stories and music revealed a hidden chapter of apartheid. The programme was critically acclaimed and has since been nominated for two media awards in the category of Best Documentary.
He made his debut as musical director on the Windrush Gala Concert for the BBC and led his own band performing these arrangements with an all-star line-up at the televised ceremony in London and composed and performed the soundtrack to the BBC’s definitive 2 part documentary on Nelson Mandela: ‘Mandela - A Living Legend’. As well as his flagship concert JAZZ BRITANNIA from The Barbican which was televised as part of the BBC series of the same name.
In the same year he presented a special live concert of the music he composed to the Paul Robeson film Borderline at The Turbine Hall, Tate Modern. Pulling together a new line-up of musicians to accompany the screening of the film as part of The Tate’s Long Weekend event. The film with his music has been released on dvd Worldwide.
He also composed, arranged and produced the soundtrack for a feature film. ‘History Is Made At Night’ for Stephen Wooley’s (Mona Lisa, Absolute Beginners) Scala Productions and was nominated for an award for his score of ‘It Was An Accident’ for Pathe Films.
On the live circuit, Courtney is the ultimate road warrior with more than 25 years touring behind him. He has played across the world - from the main stage at Glastonbury to the intimate Blue Note Tokyo, Japan and continues to tour Internationally with his award winning band.
His education work has included workshop tours not only in the UK but through the British Council as far afield as Africa, Asia and South America, major television series ‘ReWind’ for Channel 4 and has produced a short animated educational film for children featuring Maxi Jazz.
In recognition of his career to date and his contribution to the black community and jazz music, Courtney was awarded an O.B.E in the 2000 New Year’s Honours. He has also been honoured with a Gold Badge Award from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, a Fellowship to The Leeds College of Music as well as being awarded a doctorate of music by The University of Westminster and a Professor of Music by Thames Valley University.
In 2008 he presented his 13th series of Jazz Crusade, the popular Radio Two weekly specialist jazz show.
Courtney was appointed a CBE in the New Years Honours 2009.