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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 13:34 GMT
Pine turns jazz ambassador
Courtney Pine
Pine is not taking a conventional jazz line-up with him
By BBC News Online's Alex Webb

Saxophonist Courtney Pine, recently made an OBE, is taking the jazz message across the UK in a series of workshops for young people during February.

It is a mission to give something back and inspire a new generation of young musicians, but it performs a social function, too.

With the students I can see what the music of the next five years might be

Courtney Pine
The 13- to 18-year-olds selected for the workshops range from instrumental students to young people with learning difficulties, who, it is hoped, will gain in self-esteem from participating in the sessions.

It is a challenge for Pine, 37, but a rewarding one.

"I started off doing community music when I was 19, with drummer John Stevens - and his thing was about sharing the joy of jazz music with people of all abilities," he told BBC News Online.

"I've always put that into practice with the bands that I've formed, and now I have the opportunity to take it back to schools and put it into practice there."

Conscious of the rapid change in musical fashions since he hit the UK music scene in the mid-1980s, Pine is not taking a conventional jazz line-up on tour with him.

Students find DJ-ing more familar than saxophones
Instead he is using two DJs and a rapper.

DJ Pogo and DJ Biznizz are both well known within the hip-hop and club scene while rapper Sparkii is also widely known as a music producer and programmer.

"A lot of the students haven't seen a saxophone before - they've seen it on the Simpsons but never in front of them," Pine said.

"A lot of them are from the inner city, so it's turntables, DJ technology, MC-ing those are things that are close to home - garage music, drum and bass music, pop and R&B.

"So I brought one DJ and a computer technician, just to show them the insides of the music they hear every day."

The scheme is supported by the Home Office and the National Foundation for Youth Music, a charity set up in 1999 with 30m of Lottery funding.

There's a lot of creativity out there

Courtney Pine
Pine wants the participants to understand what jazz is, where it has come from - and how it can relate to teenagers' lives.

The interactive sessions include every kind of music-making from clapping rhythms and vocal work to playing along with Pine's compositions.


"There's a lot of creativity out there, students just waiting for an opportunity to express themselves in this way.

"And jazz music is a music that allows you to find yourself - and the boundaries are your own imagination," he said.

The workshops also offer a glimpse of tomorrow's music, maintains Pine: "There definitely is a British sound - music is all around, we ingest it, and we find our own way of speaking that language.

"We definitely have our own tone and that's obviously represented in pop music, but with the students I can see what the music of the next five years might be."

Pine's role as unofficial jazz ambassador to the education system clearly suits him - and he feels there is still much to be done.

"I'd like to get it a bit more official.

"Teachers are taking more notice of what we are doing, they're making notes now, and I'd like to take to the next level.

"I think it's quite essential - if nobody else is going to do it then I'll have to do it."

See also:

22 Jan 02 | Music
Jazz legend Peggy Lee dies
14 Nov 01 | Music
Jazz genius's art on display
18 Oct 01 | Music
Jazz wunderkind turns 40
01 Aug 01 | Music
Awards honour best in jazz
04 Jun 01 | Music
Still rolling at Ronnie Scott's
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