One night while living in my freezing garret flat in Slough (oh, the ‘artists’ life) I watched a performance of Copland’s Clarinet Concerto from a Jazz Prom on my tiny black and white TV. I hadn’t known much about jazz up to that point. My Dad was a jazz fan in his student days and has a collection of Trad Jazz 78’s containing Louie Armstrong and the like but that was really the sum of it. Watching this performance though, I was quite transfixed. As well as going out and buying an album version of the concerto, there were four other albums that I bought around then that have stayed with me.

At the same time as buying these four albums, my failed attempt at being a rock star was coming to an end and I was getting increasingly interested in the technology of recording. I got a second-hand Atari ST, a Korg X5 and a Roland VS-880. I explored lots of different styles of music from rock to hip-hop with a lot of ambient techno in between. I hadn’t seen a connection between my growing interest in jazz and recording technology. I was also just coming to jazz as a listener, as it was surely far too complex for a bluffing rock guitarist like me. I can’t remember why I picked up this album in the first place but it may well have been from an interview in Sound on Sound magazine. In the interview Courtney Pine said, “I wanted to do something which reflected both my studies in technology and in jazz.” Here was that connection. At the time I was studying recording at the London College of Music and worked with someone who loved hip-hop and had no interest in jazz but had bought this album, which gave us some common ground. Not sure how this helped us recording Genesis cover tracks for one of Steve Hackett’s backing bands though! It did give us something to talk about in the breaks ?

I saw Courtney Pine with the wonderful pianist Zoe Rahman playing Song (The Ballad Book) at Brecon Cathedral a few years back. It was one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen and was just them, a piano, saxophone and a bass clarinet. I met him after the show and wanted to tell him what and important album ‘modern day jazz stories’ was for me but much like when I met Arsène Wenger, I was too star struck, mumbled something incoherent and shuffled off. Maybe next time.

You can read about how Courtney Pine made the album in that interview with Sound on Sound –

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