Like many of his generation of young, black, UK jazz musicians, Courtney Pine came from a reggae and funk background. Pine is a dazzling performer on many instruments, notably saxophone, clarinet, flute and keyboards. He was a member of Dwarf Steps, a hard-bop band consisting of Berklee College Of Music graduates, before joining reggae artists Clint Eastwood And General Saint.
Courtney Pine's interest in jazz was fostered when he participated in workshops run by John Stevens. He came to wider public notice as a result of playing with Charlie Watts' Orchestra, George Russell's European touring band and with Art Blakey at the Camden Jazz Festival. In 1987, he played at the Bath Festival with the Orchestre National de Jazz. By that time, his reputation had spread far beyond jazz circles, and his first album was a massive seller by jazz standards. He appeared before a huge worldwide audience at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Concert at Wembley, backing dancers IDJ.