Transition in Tradition (En hommage a Sidney Bechet)
England’s Courtney Pine is always trying the music. Years ago, when he took a chance and dipped heavily into dance hall beats on his Closer to Home release, some traditionalists cried foul. But Pine, reaching for his personal roots, played powerful on Closer to Home. The album
was full of meaning, and passion, and an acceptance of music that was real, and happening.
Transition in Tradition will likely please the traditionalists even though the recording takes major chances and experiments within the traditional. Electric guitars are here, a mandolin, electric violin, not to mention an organ, and plenty of sounds you might find on any jazz album.
But beginning with the tune, “Haiti,” it is readily apparent that
music normalcy will be challenged yet again by Pine as he searches for those elusive components of jazz music that make it new and authentic at the same time. Obviously to a certain degree this is Pine’s statement on jazz’s Creole roots, and his ode to the soprano giant, Sidney Bechet (the title says so) all at once.
Tunes like “The Sound of Jazz” which sound like they are old New Orleans’ compositions that Pine found in a dead jazzmen’s safety deposit box, are the album’s secret coded message. And as always, Pine makes the song his own by tossing in reggae rhythms impromptu at the end only to return to the New Orleans sound to bring the song back into focus.
My favorite here: “The Tale of Joe Harriot,” Pine’s tribute to
Jamaican bebopper, Joe Harriot, who made a name for himself in England on alto sax at the same time many American players were also stretching the confines of the music. This tune, and all of the other songs, proves again Pine’s worth to jazz and world music; he delivers again, demonstrating his respect for the music and the history of its roots.