"Some of the UK's most promising young black musicians took the spotlight with relish... there was a youthful energy and spirit about them that confirmed the gravitas of the occasion. Pine too showed real commitment; his compositions and arrangements were forceful and hard-edged."
Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise

 

"The original Jazz Warriors were a hugely influential black British big band initiated by Courtney Pine in the mid-1980s. Their mission was to celebrate black British musicianship and shake up the cliquey world of British jazz.

Twenty years on, this one-off gig's 'Afropeans' were assembled to play new compositions celebrating Black History Month and the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. The rhythm section was top-notch, paring grooves down to their essential details, shifting gear with panache. There were barnstorming solos... the three-hour concert never lost interest... nice touches abounded - delicate bowed strings, a skanking reggae backing tailgate trombone, foot-stamping chains. Hugely entertaining..."

Mike Hobart, The Times

 

On 6 October 2007, at The Barbican in London, UK saxophone legend Courtney Pine led the freshly-minted 15 piece Jazz Warriors Afropeans in a vibrant three hour musical celebration of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act bicentenary. This new ensemble, taking its lead from the positive spirit of seminal 1980s big band the Jazz Warriors, brings established names such as Byron Wallen, Tony Kofi, and Alex Wilson together with key newcomers such as Shabaka Hutchings, Samuel Dubois, and Ayanna Witter Johnson. As a result, this live album documents an extraordinary meeting of some of the UK's most exciting musicians, and serves as a spellbinding memento of an evening commemorating a landmark historical event.

Courtney Pine is considered the key UK jazz musician of his generation. It all began when, as a young saxophonist backing many of the travelling reggae stars, he noticed he was not the only hornsman with a deep desire to play jazz. In 1984, he founded The Abibi Jazz Arts with a view to harnessing the collective strength among African-Caribbean jazz artists. A big band, christened The Jazz Warriors by Courtney's wife, was created and, after a very short time, it began to play its own music. The band grew in size and strength - gaining positive reactions from both audience and media - and the likes of Steve Williamson, Mamadi Kamara, Claude Deppa, Cheryl Alleyne and others contributed to its vibrancy. The Jazz Warriors' main aim was to unite different generations of musicians, and Courtney always intended up and coming players to have a place in the band; when interference from some members meant this was questioned, the band broke up under somewhat acrimonious circumstances with only one album, Out of Many One People (released in 1987 on Island Records), under its belt.

 

 

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