Jul 9th, 2021
Pianist/keyboardist George Cooper‘s main job is tickling the ivories with top UK funk/soul band The Haggis Horns, of which he’s been a member now for several years, featuring on their recordings as well as national and international tours. Between Haggis Horns duties and a busy diary of session work for a variety of artists (Hans Zimmer, Nigel Kennedy, U2, Slum Village, Abstract Orchestra, Lack Of Afro), back home in Bristol he leads a firing classic jazz quintet called The Jazz Defenders.
With a love of late 1950s jazz called hard bop, best exemplified by the Blue Note Records albums of musicians like Horace Silver, Art Blakey and Lee Morgan, they released much-acclaimed debut album Scheming on Haggis Records in March 2020 just before music shut down.
Like many musicians laid off by the pandemic, The Jazz Defenders by put their time to good use writing and arranging new material. Now, as we emerge from the darkness of lockdown and restrictions, the first two fruits of their musical labour are ready to be heard; Haggis Records are featuring the new compositions as a 7″ vinyl, released on 9th July 2021.
“The Big Man” is a bold and brassy dancefloor jazz gem that would fit neatly onto any LP from 1966 by The Jazz Defenders‘ musical heroes…Lalo Schifrin, Blue Mitchell, Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd. Fifty years ago this would be called “Soul Jazz”. Twenty-five years ago, this would have been classed as “Acid Jazz”. Today, whatever you want to call it, it’s just great upbeat feel-good music with a toe-tapping beat. Something we all need right now.
The B-side of the single is “Love’s Vestige” a grooving mid-60’s style soul jazz number with a Latin beat and cinematic overtones that conjures up images of mini-skirted ladies, sharp- suited dudes in shades, Vespa scooters, go-go clubs and cappuccino coffee bars. A short sharp and snappy tune…the perfect “Mod Jazz” combination.
It’s been a long wait but The Jazz Defenders are back. The single is a little taster for the second album which will be released later this year on Haggis Records.