Courtney Pine, Spirituality Review
by Jeff Becker
Courtney Pine has been a significant part of the British jazz scene for 30+ years on Courtney Pine. Pine is bringing us a special recording from a live performance at the London Jazz Festival with acclaimed pianist Zoe Rahman called Spirituality. Pine performs on bass clarinet as 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.” 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.”
“Black Water” is an introspective composition with Pine’s haunting bass clarinet leading through the melody. Rahman’s accompaniment is textured with harmonic and rhythmic colors but never overshadows Pine’s performance. This selection also serves as a good representation of Pine’s lyrical compositional style.
“What’ll I Do” features the string quartet, which opens the track with a beautiful opening passage. Pine gently performs the Irving Berlin melody. Pine’s solo is relaxed and expressive. However, the string quartet is overpowering in many spots, drowning out the beauty and expressiveness of Pine’s performance.
Spirituality offers many magical moments between Pine and Rahman. However, the overpowering mix of the string quartet diminishes half the album. Nevertheless, Pine shows many colors and techniques in the duet selections, and Spirituality should be explored for these gems alone.