1. The Tale of Romulus and Remus
4. The Search for the Holy Grail
5. Druids' Lyre
6. They Came From the North
7. Greek Fire
8. Folk Song No.7
9. The First Flower of Spring
10. Darwin's Dream Deferred
11. The Colchians' Interlude
12. Red Square- Gagarinesk
13. Amen All Men Amen
Courtney Pine - Bass clarinet
Amanda Drummond - Viola
Zoe Rahman - Acoustic piano
Alec Dankworth - Double bass
Mark Mondesir - Drums
Robert Fordjour - Drums, percussion (tracks 1, 7)
Shabaka Hutchins - Clarinet (track 3)
Omar Puente - Electric violin (tracks 5, 7)
Dominic Grant - Acoustic guitar (track 8)
Cameron Pierre - Acoustic guitar (track 8)
Despite his impressive talent and honours appointment, Courtney Pine is sometimes regarded as "Peck's bad boy" of British jazzman. This is due mostly to his unwillingness to compromise his musical vision, thereby annoying his critics. Whether his latest concept album, entitled Europa, changes these views remains to be seen.
Europa is an ambitious undertaking as it is an amalgamation of melodic sounds that Pine has mentally collected from his many years of touring the European landscape, along with some African characteristics. Additionally, Pine decided to utilize the bass clarinet in this session, and it is an instrument that has not found wide acceptance in jazz playing, although Herbie Mann, Eric Dolphy and Bennie Maupin recorded using it. The opening track The Tale of Romulus and Remus has its genesis in the traditional myth of Rome's twin founders Romulus and Remus, and is the window into Pine's musical journey. The unusual instrumentation focuses the listener's attention as the piece evolves into a double-drum blowing session. Segueing into the title-track Europa, Pine offers a sensitive ballad in _ time with stylish support from Zoe Rahman on acoustic piano. Recognizing the eclectic nature of both the compositions and the arrangements, all of which were done by Pine, Deuteronomy and The Search For The Holy Grail evolve with different meanings and time signatures. In the former there is a bright Calypso building block, and the latter is a quartet number that Pine uses to construct his bass clarinet sound.
Nothing really prepares the listener for the variety of soundscapes that Pine and his group present, with their ever-shifting melodies and rhythms. For example, on Druids' Lyre there are overtones of an Irish reel melded into the syncopated tune, with Cuban violinist Omar Puente particularly successful. There are some interesting North African colourations in Folk Song No.7 along with a great acoustic guitar passage by Dominic Grant (on the right channel in stereo).The elegant ballad The First Flower Of Spring features long musical lines, with Pine's bass clarinet especially touching, along with an extended solo by Alec Dankworth on double bass.
This is a highly diverse album, filled with musical nooks and crannies that Courtney Pine has filled with glorious and interesting material.