"I've been on a world tour since 1987," says British jazz musician Courtney Pine. Since releasing his debut album Journey To The Urge Within in 1986, life has been a whirlwind of performances in jazz clubs, festivals and community centres across the UK and all over Europe. However, a hectic schedule does not faze Courtney, as he enjoys nothing more than seeing how this somewhat underrated musical genre brings people of all ages and backgrounds together during one of his 90-minute sets.

Courtney, who has lived in Harrow for 20 years, is bringing the sounds of the saxophone and bass clarinet to the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, in Tottenham, this weekend and explains why he believes community centres are crucial for keeping the authentic sounds of live music alive.

The 52-year-old says: "Seeing a musician get on stage and play an instrument is a dying art, as now guys are playing their tracks on a CD player and standing there with a microphone and a gold chain and asking everybody to sing along.

"I first performed at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre about four years ago at a New Year's Eve party. The crowd was brilliant and funnily enough, my bass player Vidal Montgomery was born and bred in Tottenham so he knows the area extremely well.

"It is a nice place and it is well worth coming to art centres for live performances, as they are all about bringing people together - not just those who live in the surrounding roads and communities but people from outside the area as well."

During his show, Courtney will be performing a collection of his favourite ballads alongside pianist Zoe Rahman, who was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize in 2006.

They will play Chaka Khan's classic tunes and also his version of Amazing Grace on the bass clarinet, which he says is an unusual instrument that he likens almost to a Holy Grail.

He says: "The bass clarinet is my favourite instrument and when I was making my album, I thought it was necessary to bring the sound of it it to the foreground, as it is usually in the background of orchestras and music.

"The show will have something for everyone, as jazz can be enjoyed at any age. At my concerts, I get 10-year-olds coming along and even 89-year-olds, so it can be difficult to find that balance for everyone, but I like the fact it brings people together.

"When you play jazz music live, it is never the same and depending on who is in the audience and depending on the vibe, you get different inspirations and so don't come to the show thinking you will only hear songs from the album."

Courtney's passion for performing began when he started playing the recorder at the age of nine. He was a pupil at a school called William Wilberforce, located on Beethoven Street in Queen's Park and he knew from a very young age that he was destined to go into music.

He remembers watching American soul-jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. perform Just The Two Of Us on television and saying to his father, who worked as a carpenter, that he wanted to follow in his footsteps.

After being kicked out of school at the age of 16, he joined a reggae band and performed in various clubs around London, where he was spotted and offered six record labels.

He recalls: "I started in the 1980s at a time where there weren't many black musicians playing jazz. Most black artists were doing reggae, funk and pop music and those doing jazz were playing in wine bars and not getting any recognition. I signed to pop label Island Records and had pop chart success, which was unheard of in those days, so it has been an interesting time for me over the years.

"I remember that the first music I ever heard was ska and my parents used to play the song My Boy Lollipop. The guy who produced that is a guitarist called Ernest Ranglin and he came up with the rhythm, arrangement and production for a lot of reggae and ska music. Well, I'm actually on tour with him right now, as he is doing his farewell tour at the age of 84.

"We have just come back from Japan and we're going to Paris next week and I'm on tour with the guy who inspired me to play music, so that is one of the things that can happen in jazz. When I was a child it would wake me up and make me feel better and it still makes me feel like that even now."

Courtney Pine: Song (The Ballad Book), Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Town Hall Approach Road, Tottenham Green, N15 4RX, Friday, August 19 and Saturday, August 20, 7.30pm. Details: 0208 365 5450, berniegrantcentre.co.uk

By Rachel Russell