Tenderlonious ‘Ragas From Lahore’ LP/CD (22a Music) 4/5

Earlier in 2020, Ed “Tenderlonious” Cawthorne, through his 22a music label, released the three-track, warmly-received project ‘Tender in Lahore’. The EP once again demonstrated to the devoted legion of Tenderlonious fans that the man’s tirelessly prolific nature meant that he could pack a bag and venture to practically any corner of the world and make jaw-dropping music free of any boundaries – whether they be creatively or geographically.

That spirit of collaboration has long defined the Tenderlonious approach to music-making – the saxophonist and flautist can boast some seismic collaborations throughout his career. Perhaps of most note is, of course, his work as part the jazz quartet, Ruby Rushton, who continue to amass a fantastic catalogue of music; there have been the past releases with the Polish jazz septet EABS (‘Kraksa’ and ‘Svantetic’) and the upcoming ‘Cosmica Italiana’ release with Italian DJ, producer and musician Lorenzo Morresi – all projects housed under his own 22a record label. His chameleon-like ability to adapt his style in accordance with the project is also mind-boggling – whether the project sees Cawthorne flying solo as he does for his four-track house and electronica EP from 2019, ‘Think Twice’, or whether the project sees Cawthorne paying homage to the man dubbed “British jazz’s forgotten genius”, Tubby Hayes, as he did, again earlier this year for the Jazz Detective release, ‘Tender Plays Tubby’.

For the ‘Tender in Lahore’ EP, the three tracks that were selected were always intended to be a delicious snapshot of the full sessions that spawned from a day’s recording in Pakistan – a day which saw Cawthorne capitalise upon his moment of inspiration to record with the instrumental quartet, Jaubi. The international union was in large part facilitated by Łukasz Wojciechowski from Astigmatic Records. Astigmatic Records themselves, fierce flag-wavers for an unrivalled perspective of global contemporary jazz housing releases by the aforementioned EABS, the UK’s Cykada and – as you may have guessed – Lahore’s Jaubi.

Jaubi’s releases with Astigmatic have nicely presented the quartet’s music to western audiences and what is truly fascinating about Jaubi’s releases are that, for a collective that creates Hindustani (North Indian) classical music, to see the impact of hip-hop culture permeate through their sounds is genuinely eye-opening. From their Astigmatic Records release in 2016, ‘The Deconstructed Ego’, we not only have ‘Dilla Taal (For J Dilla)’ a track created as an ode to the revered producer but also a cover of Dilla’s ‘Time: The Donut of the Heart’ and 2018 single ‘Lahore State of Mind’, a cover of the beloved ‘NY State of Mind’ by Nas.

“Tender meets Jaubi” is obviously a salivating prospect and with the excellent EP precursor from earlier in the year already having received rave reviews, expectations for the full-length are naturally high. With Cawthorne on flutes and saxophones, Jaubi is represented by members Kashif Ali Dhani on tabla / vocals, Zohaib Hassan Khan on sarangi and Ali Riaz Baqar on guitar. For these seemingly completely disparate realms of music to come together for a project is one thing but for the compositions on this release to be born of complete improvisation seems almost unreal. And adding a really exciting additional dimension to the soundscapes presented here is the introduction of Marek Pędziwiatr (from EABS and Astigmatic Records) on synth drone providing exquisite new textures to the compositions making his contribution indispensable.

‘Ragas From Lahore’ caps off what’s been an incredible year of music releases from Tenderlonious and 22a and with eager anticipation, we wait to see what treasures are currently in development for 2021.

Imran Mirza

Read also:
Tenderlonious ‘Quarantena’ LP/CD (22a Music) 5/5
Tenderlonious ‘The Piccolo: TENDER plays TUBBY’ EP/CD (Jazz Detective) 5/5