Courtney Pine at the New Theatre Royal

Courtney Pine
Courtney Pine
From left, Phil Shulman, Derek Shulman, Tony Ransley, Kerry Minnear, Ray Shulman at the induction of Gentle Giant into the Guildhall's Wall of Fame

Gentle Giant prove they’re still a huge draw as they’re inducted in to the Guildhall’s Wall of Fame

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As introductions go ‘I’m Courtney Pine and I like to play jazz’ is pretty on the money, but for this evening, he’s doing something a bit different.

Drawing exclusively from new album Europa and abandoning his usual sax in favour of the bass clarinet, it’s not always a night of easy listening.

But with his seven piece band, Pine takes the close-to-full crowd on his own musical trip around the continent. Each number takes in multiple time changes, pulling in influences from the Tango to gypsy melodies, and all of the band get to shine in the solos that punctuate every elongated excursion.

Pianist Zoe Rahman teases out a beautiful piece during They Came From the North, while Omar Puente’s electric violin is blistering in Druid’s Lyre - a number that manages to create a whole new jazz sub-genre: celtic-bop.

But after each of his band takes a solo, Pine will bump fists with them, tag-team style, and resume his spot at centre stage. Rocking and swaying, his performances grow increasingly frenetic until the finale of Greek Fire, where he breaks into a snatch of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

It’s a cheeky flourish to what has been an incredible whistle-stop tour.