From March 2013 It’s always a sense of occasion when Courtney Pine plays Ronnie Scott’s. Like that time in the Soho jazz spot five years ago that the saxophonist took the Jazz Warriors Afropeans to the Frith Street club for the first time. The Courtney Pine band has been back regularly since.
If the Ronnie’s two-nighter next week is anything like his performance on the stage above the superb sprung dance floor of the Assembly Hall in Islington last autumn then it should be quite a couple of nights. In Islington Pine launched House of Legends, this latest album marking a return to the Caribbean in spirit, although very different to earlier albums such as the underrated reggae-based gem Closer To Home.
Courtney tackled merengue, ska, mento and calypso on House of Legends and in the north London venue that night, the superb Mario Canonge, the pianist from the record, appeared, the Martiniquan who came over specially from France for a one-off. He’s not expected though for the Soho dates. But look out for newcomer Chris ‘Santo’ Cobbson on guitar, an addition to the regular band. Pine is a notable nurturer of new jazz talent in his bands over the years. No details of the band setlist for Thursday, the first London jazz club shows since the first ever Hideaway nights in December, are available at this early stage, but such stirring numbers from the album as ‘Kingstonian Swing’, and ‘Liamuiga (Cook Up)’ could well be included, the latter a tune St Kitts and Nevis citizen Wallis Wilin titled after a radio call-out. Hopefully, Pine will also reprise ‘Ça c’est bon ça’, the Dominican part of the album, a style the French call zouk love. If you like lovers rock you may well enjoy the waltzier zouk dimension. ‘From the Father to the Son’ was a highlight at the Islington gig, but the saxophonist didn’t play the highly infectious choro ‘Tico Tico’, which perhaps he will slip in at Ronnie’s. The club’s website lists the band line-up as: Courtney Pine, soprano saxophone; Robert Fordjour, drums; Cameron Pierre, guitar; Chris Cobbson (from singer Shireen Francis’ trio), guitar; Darren Taylor (aka Vidal Montgomery) double bass; and Samuel Dubois, steel pan. SG
Courtney Pine above is at Ronnie Scott’s, London on 7-8 March. www.ronniescotts.co.uk