Nothing wrong with standing on shoulders if you do it with respect.
London quartet Ruby Rushton is back with its fourth disc today. It is a near-flawless gem of a record. While it owes a heavy debt to Yusef Lateef, The Headhunters and Weather Report (by their own account), it does so with a carefully tuned mix of reverence and creative license.
Ironside – despite its obvious touchpoints and throwback title – is capital-F Fresh, proving once and for all that what’s old can be new again.
The band recorded the album in two days at Abbey Road Studios. Front-man and 22a label founder Ed Cawthorne (a.k.a. Tenderlonious) and I connected by email.
What’s it like to record at Abbey Road?
It’s a special place. You can feel the history and energy as soon as you walk into the building. It’s really inspiring! The equipment, engineers and environment are the best we’ve worked with.
Any surprises during the process?
I think there’s always room for surprises when you’re recording. This new Ruby Rushton material is a lot more considered and structured than the last time I worked at Abbey Road with the 22archestra, which was more of an improvised session. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvisation with Ruby Rushton though – these are some the best musicians around. They all like to experiment, so there are always surprises.
Compare this album to your previous three.
I think Ironside is a more concise album, it’s straight to the point, no bullshit. It was written and rehearsed in a short space of time, we tried to keep that energy with the recording so it’s exciting to listen to. I think we’ve definitely gotten tighter as a band and more confident with each other’s abilities. We’ve been playing together for eight years now, so we’ve grown together as a unit.
Hip hop has contributed a lot to jazz, and vice versa.
I grew up listening to hip hop and it’s through hip hop that I learned about jazz. Groups like Slum Village and A Tribe Called Quest not only sampled jazz, but talked about it in their raps. If it wasn’t for people like them, I may not have ever discovered jazz music.
The connection between the two genres has evolved considerably since the US3 days.
To me, the ‘90s was the golden era of jazz influenced hip hop. That was my favourite time. Since then people have delved deeper into other genres for samples. These days you’re more likely to hear an obscure percussion sample from a ‘70s Turkish record instead of that classic Fender Rhodes sample from a Herbie Hancock record.
Ruby Rushton is touring England throughout April.