Tenderlonious: You Know I Care

London saxman turns from originals to postbop classics and from soprano to alto in a set that salutes Wayne Shorter, Eric Dolphy and others

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Turning his focus away from his usual delivery of original compositions, saxophonist Tenderlonious enters fresh territory with an album exploring the classic jazz that has inspired him over the years.

Players like Clifford Jordan, Jackie McLean, Duke Pearson and Wayne Shorter have provided him with a constant source of inspiration, so this album is a tribute to them, and also serves as their introduction to a new generation of jazz listeners. It is also the first time that Tenderlonious has recorded on alto saxophone, as if his new instrument required new challenges to play.

Charles Tolliver’s On The Nile opens the set, a bold, a gutsy piece with a distinctly Middle Eastern theme that the quartet tackles with confident ease as it build up momentum towards a climactic drum solo from Tim Carnegie. Stanley Cowell’s Maimoun is smoother and more West Coast in feel, its simple yet evocative melody underpinned by bassist Pete Martin’s incomparable groove.

Wayne Shorter’s Infant Eyes, played in tribute to the late saxophonist, is performed as a flute and piano duet, its free, moving performance revealing the intricacies and beauty of the composition. Poor Eric is also a tribute, this time to saxophonist Eric Dolphy, a haunting ballad that starts with a brooding piano and melancholic saxophone that summon up a dream-like trance before a raw and emotive solo from the leader transforms the piece.

Two iconic pieces end the set, a fine tribute to John Coltrane originally recorded by Clifford Jordan, and Duke Pearson’s You Know I Care, a great ballad from the 1960s delivered by the leader’s husky alto flute over steady bass and drums before a delicate solo by pianist Hamish Balfour closes the piece.

What stands out in this set is the reverence with which this band approaches its material, and the serious, sensitive way they perform it. Tenderlonious always impresses, but this set excels.


Discography
On The Nile; Maimoun; Infant Eyes; Poor Eric; John Coltrane; You Know I Care (42.33)
Tenderlonious (as, f); Hamish Balfour (p); Pete Martin (elb); Tim Carnegie (d). Swindon, England, 10 March 2023.
22a 22A043CD