..with each listen it proved difficult to not want to share one’s enthusiasm for an album that deserves to be heard.

22a (LP: 22A043 / CD: 22A043CD)

Tenderlonious (alto saxophone, flutes); Hamish Balfour (piano); Pete Martin (bass); Tim Carnegie (drums)

Recorded 10th March 2023

This is a quite stunning album from Tenderlonious, a.k.a  flautist and saxophonist Ed Cawthorne, and will appeal to all who have a taste for 1960s hard bop and soul jazz. In an enthralling set Tenderlonious collects together six compositions from the jazz canon and brings to them a freshness that is both infectious and most appealing.

As active participant on the scene for some years, many will know Tenderlonious through his band Ruby Rushton who have releases several albums on his own 22a imprint.

The albums featured Tenderlonious on tenor saxophone and flute, and his Ragas from Lahore set released in 2020 found the multi-instrumentalist performing on flutes and soprano saxophone in a series of improvised ragas with the Pakistani quartet, Jaubi.

You Know I Care thus appears to be the album that the saxophonist has been longing to make, but for some reason decided to put on hold, that is until now. Also adding to his instrumental armoury, this is the first outing on record for Tenderlonious on alto saxophone.

From the outset it is quite clear that Cawthorne is well versed in the idiom and has listened closely to Jackie Mclean among others.

Unlike McLean there is no hint of a sharpness in his sound, instead he has a full and round lower register while the middle and upper registers sing with an even fullness and purity that he is able to colour at will.

Particularly fond of long notes during solos at a slower tempo, these are like mini statements in themselves as the saxophonist alters the dynamic of the note and fills them with expression and feeling.

Tenderlonious states his intentions from the outset and there can be no mistaking this is his tribute to some of the unsung masters of the 60s. Trumpeter Charles Tolliver’s ‘On The Nile’ gets things off to a fine start with the Middle Eastern feel of the theme very much in keeping with the saxophonist’s own areas of exploration.

The rhythm section is on hand to provide some solid support here, as they do throughout, setting up the mood perfectly for the deeply passionate alto solo.

Another theme that conjures up the hard bop of its time is ‘Maimon’ by pianist Stanley Cowell. From Hamish Balfour’s piano introduction, the bass lays down a solid line that sets the tone and pace for piece.

The alto spells out the melody with that full tone that is such a feature of the album, again hanging on to some of the notes and thus creating a delicious tension.

The saxophone solo is a delight as Tenderlonious charts his way through the chords with a lyrical contribution that is picked up by Balfour in an outing that flows with invention.

Dedicated to the great Eric Dolphy, Larry Willis’s ‘Poor Eric’ is a tender ballad that again demonstrates the depth of feeling that Tenderlonious brings to such a tribute, and he brings an equal passion to ‘John Coltrane’.

Originally recorded by tenorist Clifford Jordan, the saxophonist has decided not to play his tenor on a tribute to Trane but instead has brought a heartfelt offering on the smaller horn. His solo here pushes to the limits, there is not a note that isn’t meant or necessary, just pure passion in a lucid and exciting solo.

Turning to flutes for two numbers, Wayne Shorter’s ‘Infant Eyes’ with a delightfully intimate duet with Hamish Balfour in which the pianist nearly steals the honours with his solo that just develops organically as it progresses.

Picking up the deeper sounding alto flute for ‘You Know I Care’, Tenderlonious gives Duke Pearson’s ballad a fine reading that is poignant without being oversentimental.

It was not the intention when writing this review to give a synopsis of each of the six tunes, but with each being of such quality and revealing more with each listen it proved difficult to not want to share one’s enthusiasm for an album that deserves to be heard.