Sep 11th, 2023
Bristol’s soul-jazz kings The Jazz Defenders release a new 45 this autumn as a taster for their 3rd album, slated for release in spring 2024. Once again, they are bringing together their love of 1960s soul-jazz and golden era 90s hip-hop, just as they did on a couple of tracks on their last album King Phoenix from 2022. This new single sees them reunited with London MC/rapper Doc Brown, who guested on the track “Perfectly Imperfect“, and his flow sits so naturally over the Jazz Defenders’ music and beats you’d think he’s a permanent band member.
A-side “Rolling On A High” is a real old-school boom-bap-style party hip hop jam. Big beats, rolling bassline (acoustic double bass), Ramsey Lewis soul-jazz piano vamps, funky Hammond organ and some punchy horn section business, all topped off with Doc Brown bouncing bars back and forth with that laidback vibe he always brings to the mic. A guaranteed dance-floor bomb, whether you’re a breaker, a jazz dancer or simply a Saturday night disco shuffler.
B-side “Looking Back” takes the tempo right down. An ‘end of the night’ number when the lights in the club are low, the last drinks are being drained and you’re thinking and reminiscing about times gone by. The good times and bad, successes and mistakes. And made even more poignant and reflective halfway through when the mellow strings come into the song (once again excellently arranged by pianist/bandleader George Cooper). If “Rolling On A High” is the fire then “Looking Back” is definitely the ice. Proof The Jazz Defenders can rock the party, grab the dancers but also dig deep with emotive tunes that draw in the discerning listener.
Led by keyboard maestro George Cooper (of The Haggis Horns), The Jazz Defenders have been building a reputation as a great musical unit since their debut Blue Note/hard bop-inspired album Scheming from 2019, which received a huge amount of praise from critics, and spent 5 weeks in the top 10 of the American jazz charts In 2021, their double A-side 45 “The Big Man” / “Love’s Vestige” got heavy support on radio from top folks like Craig Charles (BBC6 Music), Helen Mayhew (Jazz FM), Jamie Cullum (BBC Radio 2), and Worldwide FM resident DJ’s Ashley Beedle and Colin Curtis. They further enhanced their reputation as a rocking band with album number two King Phoenix and by electrifying audiences at sold-out live shows across the UK, including the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London.
“Rolling On A High” / “Looking Back” out on 45 / Digital on Sep. 8th via Haggis