Leading British saxophonist Courtney Pine (pictured left), has won Jazzwise magazine’s Album Of The Year for his triumphant ska, soca and reggae-fuelled record, House Of Legends. Voted for by Jazzwise’s team of esteemed writers, each one submitting their Top Ten New and Top Ten Reissue/Archive charts for albums released in 2012 – where ten points are awarded for first place, and one for tenth place – the final scores added up to a substantial win for multi-reed master Pine. A first time recipient of this annual award Pine follows recent winners Gregory Porter, Phronesis, Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland and Empirical.
It’s perhaps no surprise that in these grim socio-economic and environmental times that Pine has come up with an album that hits the feet as hard as the head. House of Legends is arguably his most complete statement to date: paying tribute to the fallen heroes in the struggle for equality, re-energising the musical traditions and giants of his Caribbean roots and fizzing with some of his most exhilarating soprano sax improvisations ever captured on disc. When Alyn Shipton reviewed the album for Jazzwise’s October issue he remarked: “Unquestionably one of the most joyous albums Pine has ever made. This is music to be listened to on several levels.” Clearly a number of Jazzwise writers were similarly moved as it has garnered the most votes by a convincing margin in our annual critics poll – so big congratulations Mr Pine.
The top 20 new releases also sees EST still making big waves with the monumental 301 four years after their tragic demise, proving conclusively how much they are missed. John Surman returned to his West Country roots for the haunting beauty of Saltash Bells, Christine Tobin turned in a stunning jazz interpretation of the poetry of WB Yeats, which is widely spoken of as her finest album yet, and readers please say a big welcome to Roller Trio. A new young British band that really fired the imagination, caught the critic’s attention and will be touching, and torching, ears, at a venue near you in 2013.
Read more: Jazzwise