Ruby Rushton

ruby rushton

Ruby Rushton: Experimental jazz from Tenderlonious quartet

Ruby Rushton

Ruby Rushton: Experimental jazz from Tenderlonious quartet


Tenderlonious, head honcho of 22a Records, has been releasing EPs under his own imprint from a collective of musicians who tread between lo-fi beats, percussive grooves, dub and eclectic rhymes.


But now the label boss, himself a gifted multi-instrumentalist, is heading up his own brand of experimental jazz with band, Ruby Rushton. A far cry from trad jazz, this funky South London-based foursome fuse hip-hop, afro-beat and electronic music to create “tomorrow’s music, tomorrow’s sound”.


Ruby Rushton’s debut album ‘Two For Joy’, due out on 22a on June 29, was recorded in 2011. The album features deeply personal instrumental compositions fuelled by a love of Coltrane, Yusef Lateef and Fela Kuti to the likes of hip hop’s Slum Village and Sa-Ra. Tenderlonious heads up the quartet on saxophone, flute and percussion, alongside drummer Yussef Dayes, trumpeter Nick Walters and keyboard player Aidan Shepherd.


The long-player is filled with moments of ramped-up spell-binding energy, meditative slow-build solos, and melancholic grooves. Recorded live in one day with no overdubs, “Two For Joy” is the result of four friends coming together and pouring their hearts out in the most expressive way they know how.


The title track is a smooth jazz composition with a J-Dilla-esque hip hop rhythm sauntering in the background, which is testament to the group’s various streams of inspiration.


Ed ‘Tenderlonious’ Cawthorne was inspired to pick up the saxophone after being inspired by freaked jazz samples of the hugely influential hip hop group, A Tribe Called Quest.


The innovative and forward thinking artist spent his early years split between Germany and Cyprus before coming to the UK in the 90s. Settling for South London, Tenderlonious met his mentor, dance producer, Equinox (Scientific Wax, Planet Mu) who set him on a path of music production. His skills in the studio soon became apparent, coupled together with his ability to play a wide range of instruments, which led him to work with a diverse set of underground UK artists.


But it is the “Two For Joy” project that appears to be a deeply personal 45 for the 22a label boss. It pays homage to American jazz multi-instrumentalist, Yusef Lateef, who Tenderlonious credits for his development as a musician.


“In 2007 my life took a major turn and I was faced with some difficult circumstances. It was at this time that I decided to pursue the saxophone and develop my understanding of music,” Tenderlonious explains.


“Up until that point I had been producing music using samples from records that I had collected over the years. There was an album by Yusef Lateef called ‘The Golden Flute’ that I had stumbled upon by chance,” Tenderlonious adds. “I didn’t realise the power of his music at first – I spent more time sampling records than actually listening to them; however, it’s relevance soon became apparent to me. His tone was so unique and I found that I identified with it more than any other music I’d heard before. He also had a strong spiritual element to his sound, which I didn’t understand straight away, but I definitely felt a connection.


“It was a difficult time in my life and I felt quite separated from the world at large. It was in Yusef Lateef’s music that I found solitude, which consequently led to me investing all my efforts into becoming a saxophonist and developing as a musician. I owe him a great debt. I humbly dedicate my musical efforts to his legacy.”


The Tenderlonious-fronted experimental jazz quartet is the first album release on his hugely impressive 22a label. The label may only have five EPs under its belt to date, but 22a have attracted quite a following in the two years it has been running. The camp are known for releasing only small runs of hand-stamped 12”s  from the likes of a close knit community of musicians that includes Tenderlonious, Al Dobson Jr and Henry Wu alongside brothers Mo Kolours, Reginald Omas Mamode IV and Jeen Bassa.


Having started the label in 2013 as a way to get his friends sounds noticed, Tenderlonious says 22a is “like a way of us sharing our music”.


“I do things my way, I create my own rules, break them and then start all over again,” Tenderlonious describes about setting up 22a. “I thought — someone’s gotta do it. I enquired about prices from other people that I knew and got some ideas of where to go and how much it would cost, and I thought, well, I haven’t really got the money but fuck it I’ll just do it. One of those things, you just make it happen.”


Ruby Rushton’s Two For Joy is out on 29 June on 22a Records


About the Author

Rosa Medea is a writer specializing in sustainable lifestyle, green living, natural health, and wellbeing. She also appreciates good tunes, making cocktails, and discovering new places to walk in nature.