Review by Kamal Huggins-Kolade
On April 27th I was one of two ‘On The Edge’ Team V members who had the pleasure of going to see the House of Legends album release concert of Courtney Pine. It was spectacular. I have never heard jazz like it, with its full-on Caribbean roots (embracing merengue, ska, mento and calypso) and the interaction with the crowd, it had all the elements to keep us engaged. One of the best things about the performance was that it didn’t feel like it was for any particular age, there were pockets of young people among a diverse crowd.
The strings of Cameron Pierre’s guitar weren’t the only things causing excitement at The Drum on Saturday night. Fan and first-timers alike were anticipating but not expecting the energetic performance they were about to experience. The line-up of the night was Vidal Montgomery on double bass, Robert Fordjour on drums, including djembe, Cameron Pierre on the electric guitar, Samuel Dubois on the steel pans and last but not least Courtney Pine on the soprano sax and EWI*. Courtney Pine also took a moment out to “play a note” for the recently deceased Birmingham jazz legend Andy Hamilton, an important man to him. Cameron Pierre played one of his songs “From the father to the son” from his new LP.
The members of the band all played in unison complimenting each other with smiles and good old fist bump approval (firms). The concert was full of vibrant jazz, wicked solos and resplendent paeans that moved the room with soul and culture. Check out Courtney Pine’s many album releases to get a taste of jazz like you’ve never heard it before, http://www.courtneypine.co.uk/
*The EWI (electric wind instrument) has a very sci-fi look about it, the sounds it makes can be switched by the player during a performance. In one section Courtney Pine used the EWI to play a live mix by recording a part and layering the different sounds on top of each other making a subtle dance beat. At one point he also switched the instrument to emit the sound of bagpipes. The sax back to back with the EWI is like having a grand piano next to a synthesiser, very similar but both have a specific role within the show. The EWI has similar action to the soprano sax yet has the Boehm fingering system commonly found on the flute.
AFTERWORDS from ‘On The Edge’ Team V gig attendees
We asked volunteers Kamal and Fatima to share the kinds of gigs they’ve been to recently and how those gigs compared with hearing Courtney Pine.
I have been to many gigs in the past including the celebration of Jamaican independence last year at the Yardbird in town and I have performed at a small percentage of them. The majority of gigs I have been to are acts that play R&B, gospel and hip hop. I am very fond of Jazz and the Yiddish Twist Orchestra’s unconventional take on music was a recent find.
It’s hard to put my finger on what act I like the most from gigs I have been to as I have been to see people who have such different styles with equally the same amount of passion but stemming from different places. I have a friend at my previous church who delivers a burst of passion for Jesus Christ through his raps and inspires me to bring out what I am passionate for because the best music, for me, makes the listener feel your emotion and think about what they have just heard.
In live concerts and gigs I enjoy the way that people use their instruments to put across their emotions and the unity of the band. The Courtney Pine set was ecstatic and I saw and felt how the players were in such high spirits. The Caribbean roots were strong in the Pine set but when it came to the solos, in the guitars I definitely heard rock sounds, the drums were of African influence and in the bass solo it reminded me of hip hop.
Money can never hinder my drive to discover new acts but if I had some spare to set aside specifically for venturing out to find something new I would definitely use that fund. The main thing about finding something new is a reluctance to be disappointed but going to a gig for the sake of going rather than having an expectation is the way forward because it relies on curiosity rather than the preconceived level the act must live up to.
I’ve been to see Drake, J. Cole and Daley. Drake and J. Cole are rappers so they come under the hip hop/ rap genre and Daley is an R&B/ soul singer, sometime he does a bit of neo-soul as well.
It’s very hard to decide which gig has been my favourite as Daley’s concert set was more intimate, whereas Drake and J. Cole had a louder and livelier set with fans ‘steaming’ everywhere. It was a very passionate atmosphere to be in, just because of the intimacy I will say Daley’s was my favourite as I felt more connected to his music.
I have never been to a jazz concert before so I didn’t know what to expect. The atmosphere was amazing it was very loud and energetic, yet it had a calmness about it. It’s their amazing talent that captivates everyone’s attention. Compared to the other gigs I have been to I felt this band was more wholesome. Although Courtney Pine was the main star he gave everyone in the band a chance to shine with their amazing solos.
I would definitely like to broaden my horizons more – to explore gigs that I wouldn’t usual go to. I would never have picked this gig for myself before and I loved it. Now I am not going to be afraid to step outside my comfort zone again. Some of the main factors that keep me from going to more gigs are that tickets get sold out before I get the chance to purchase them, also they cost a lot sometimes.