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King Phoenix

The Jazz Defenders

Haggis Records
HRCD006 | 2022-03-18  
Bristol's jazz daddies The Jazz Defenders drop their second album for Haggis Records (home of UK funk kings The Haggis Horns), in March 2022 and it's a real departure from their debut release "Scheming" (released in 2020). Whereas that album was a homage to the late 1950s/early 1960s classic jazz style known as hard bop, this release moves into new territory with hip-hop/jazz, cinema soundtrack flavours, Latin rhythms and soul-jazz all upfront in the mix. Three taster singles from the album released in mid/late 2021 and march 2022, "The Big Man/Love's Vestige, "Live Slow" (featuring US rapper Herbal T), and "Perfectly Imperfect" (feat Doc Brown) received great radio support from the likes of Craig Charles (BBC 6 Music), Helen Mayhew (Jazz FM), Jamie Cullum (BBC Radio 2), Ashley Beedle (Worldwide FM), Colin Curtis (Worldwide FM) amongst many others, all loving the Jazz Defenders' musical fusion of retro meets modern.
The classic sound that has inspired the band this time is very much from the mid-late 1960s era and the merging of soul and funk beats with jazz solos/improvisation. Tracks like "Wagger Jaunt" and "Munch" nod to the piano and organ-led soul-jazz of artists like Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Hancock, Reuben Wilson, and Jimmy Smith. Meanwhile "Saudade" and "Love's Vestige" feature Brazilian bossa rhythms but with some added film soundtrack overtones. Speaking of movie soundtracks, "The Oracle'' is a pure homage to the classic cinematic compositions of maestros like John Barry(James Bond, The Ipcress File) or Lalo Schifrin (Mission Impossible, Bullitt) right down to the very impressive string arrangement, beautifully scored and orchestrated by band leader George Cooper.
A big departure from the previous album comes via the two hip-hop/jazz tracks, both of which feature guest MCs. "Live Slow" has US rapper Herbal T blessing the mic over an uptempo soul-jazz number whilst "Perfectly Imperfect" features London MC/actor Doc Brown rapping on a nice and slow 90's style head-nodding hip-hop groove. Both compositions show George Cooper's love for old-school boom-bap hip-hop (by the way, he also plays keys with renowned UK hip-hop big band Abstract Orchestra). For classic jazz lovers who dug the first album, there are two pure jazz tracks that join the dots between that debut release and this sophomore one - "Twilight" and "From The Ashes" - with plenty of vibrant solos for the discerning listener.
"King Phoenix" is a statement in itself from The Jazz Defenders. After 2 years of music being destroyed by the pandemic and many musicians inactive, the band has risen from the ashes with new vigour, energy and vision to try something new and not just repeat past musical glories. A band that sticks to the same script every release might just end up having a short shelf life but the Jazz Defenders are planning on being around for a long time.

"Gutsy groove, where old and new school funk meets jazz, cinema and beyond...fantastic stuff, check them out now!" - Dennis Rollins
"Impeccable execution" - Music Letter, Italy
"Highly recommended" - Jazz Journal
"The Jazz Defenders are really becoming a name that you should know" - Skeme Richards (Nostalgia King)
"Outstanding!" - Beat Caffeine
"Absolutely storming!" - Jamie Cullum
"Wonderfully put together" - Craig Charles
"Amazing...a winner!" - Snowboy

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