’Ironside’ sees the band continuing to push boundaries, and lead the way, with this new genre defying recording. The quartet’s fresh, high energy sound is rooted in the spiritual concepts of John Coltrane and Yusef Lateef, paying homage to The Headhunters and Weather Report heyday, whilst still adopting influences from hip hop, Afrobeat and the UK underground culture.
”Ironside” - meaning someone who is “courageous and possessing great physical and mental strength” sums up the Ruby Ruston journey so far. A personal, against the odds journey, that required Tenderlonious starting a label, 22a, back in 2013. Nobody much cared about jazz back in 2011 when the first Ruby Ruston album (‘Two For Joy’) was recorded, so the 22a platform was built, a home for friends and members of the family to release music from. Fast forward to 2019 and the jazz landscape is looking a whole lot healthier.
The album’s title track embodies its meaning more than any other track on the album. A highly technical, jazzy jungle mover, held down by Tim Carnegie’s drums and Tenderlonious’ expeditious flute solo.
”The Return Of The Hero” nods most explicitly to the ever-present flute hero Yusef Lateef, the prancing dance of “Eleven Grapes” builds a locked groove perpetually upwards in spirals of dizzying frency, whilst “Triceratops / The Caller” evokes alternating contributions from 4 Hero’s sampled breaks, J-Dilla’s loping beats and Lonnie Liston Smith’s cosmic keys, all of which coalesce in a perfect, joyous blend.
The solemn beauty of “Prayer for Greenfell” is a respectful and dignified memorial, befitting of the magnitude of many lives stolen and “Pingwin VI” is dedicated to another hero of Tenderlonious - the Polish jazz legend Krzysztof Komeda.
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