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Courtney Pine: Spirituality

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Courtney Pine: Spirituality
In the 1980s, as a co-founder of the band Jazz Warriors and with his debut album Journey To The Urge Within (Island, 1986), reed player Courtney Pine inspired a generation young black British musicians, and not a few white ones, too. On Spirituality, Pine teams up with pianist Zoe Rahman, herself an influential figure, for a reprise of their album Song (The Ballad Book) (Destin-E, 2015).

Both albums feature Pine on bass clarinet and Rahman in a supporting role, but this time the pair are accompanied by a string quartet on half the tracks. The album includes two Pine originals, "Black Water" and "Your Majesty." These bookend Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," Michel Legrand's "Windmills Of My Mind," "Ayr Hod Y Nos" (the Welsh hymn known in English as "All Through The Night"), Neal Hefti's "Girl Talk," Richard Rodgers' "Blue Moon," the African American spiritual "Motherless Child" and Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do" (which last title, as contractions go, is almost as memorable as the normally literate Ira Gershwin's couplet "But I'm bidin' my time / 'Cause that's the kinda guy I'm").

As the material suggests, Spirituality, while by no means gloomy, is introspective and touched by melancholy. Pine recorded it in January 2022 with the recent passing of several friends much in mind. The closer, "Your Majesty," which Pine composed for the late Queen Elizabeth II, who passed in September 2022, seems prescient, but Pine actually wrote the tune after the monarch made him an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, aka an OBE, in 2000.

Pine and Rahman play as sensitively as one would expect. But Spirituality is let down by the inconsequential string charts, a weakness exacerbated by their prominence in the mix, which frequently overpowers Rahman's piano and/or muddies the sound. Having two violas rather than two violins in the quartet does not help with the muddy factor. Rahman showed how much more effectively strings can be incorporated, with just one violin and a double bass, on the sublime Where Rivers Meet (Manushi,2008 ), a collaboration with her brother Idris Rahman, on clarinet and bass clarinet.

Track Listing

Black Water; Smile; Windmills Of My Mind; Ayr Hod Y Nos; Girl Talk; Blue Moon; Motherless Child; What’ll I Do; Spirituality (Interlude); Your Majesty.

Personnel

Courtney Pine: saxophone; Zoe Rahman: piano.

Additional Instrumentation

Courtney Pine bass clarinet; Zoe Rahman acoustic piano; Elaine Blair: violin (2, 4, 6, 8, 10); Natalie Taylor: viola (2, 4, 6, 8, 10); Mira Glenn: viola (2, 4, 6, 8, 10); Jenny Adejayan: cello (2, 4, 6, 8, 10).

Album information

Title: Spirituality | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Destin-E Records

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