Debut album out now on Haggis Records
"Wonderfully put together..." - Craig Charles
"Amazing album - every track a winner" - Snowboy
"One of the best new Jazz albums I've heard in a very long time - blown away!" - Perry Louis/Jazzcotech
Shortlisted for Best Album, Best Band and Best New Band 2019 in Music Republic...
"The band name is your first clue that you’re in for something special. It conjures thoughts of Art Blakey, the Crusaders and other classics of bebop and hard bop. But better yet, it delivers, and in a big way. This Bristol, England outfit understands what made hard bop a force in jazz back in the ’50s and ’60s, and it has unlocked the key to bringing that excitement and style to the 21st century with – wait for it – new, original material. If you dig Horace Silver and Cannonball Adderley, you’ll be thrilled to discover this group."
- Bill Kopp, Musoscribe, ASHEVILLE, USA
"The Jazz Defenders are a UK quintet formed by pianist George Cooper. The rest of the band is Nicholas Dover (sax), Nick Malcolm (trumpet), Will Harris (bass) and Matt Brown (drums). They came together in 2015 drawn by a mutual love and respect for soul-jazz and classic hard bop – the music of the Golden Age of Blue Note, if you would.
'Scheming' is their debut long player and it begins in lively fashion with 'Top Down Tourism'. Prefaced by Cooper's sparkling piano, it takes summery flight when the horns kick in before the intricate piano solo. Plenty more of the same piano/horn synergy on the bluesy 'Everybody's Got Something', the bumpy, percussive 'Late' and the lovely slow burner that is 'Rosie Karma'.
The quintet tip their collective hat to soul-jazz as Cooper takes to the Hammond on the album title track and 'She'll Come Round'. The bass-led 'Costa Del Lol' is the big Latin moment while 'Hawkeye Jorge' and 'Brown Down' could be themes to 60s art house movies ensuring that the Defenders tick all the boxes that classic jazz albums seem to demand. Clearly that's what they've been keen to do.
Sticking to their mission statement to celebrate the Golden Age of Blue Note, Impulse etc, they leave little to chance and offer music across the genre spectrum. Even the art work and sleeve layout strives for authenticity. By the way, if you're intrigued by the album's label – Haggis Records; it's a new imprint set up by the funky Haggis Horns who also have a penchant for classic jazz... and in the Jazz Defenders they've found soul mates... or should that be jazz mates? Released December 6th."
- Souljazzandfunk.com, UK
SELECTED BY FIP (Album of the month, January 2020)
The English quintet of pianist George Cooper has released "Scheming", a collection of ten tracks where swing and groove rediscover all their musicality.
In the 1960s Alfred Lion, Francis Wolff and the engineer of his Rudy Van Gelder marked the history of jazz by bringing together on their Blue Note record label the best bop and hard bop musicians of the time. During this golden age of the label, jazzmen will add to their unparalleled technique a hint of lightness and musicality by mixing their bop with groove, boogalloo or Latin music. On its first album Scheming, The Jazz Defenders defends with modernity the soul jazz heritage of the great albums of Horace Silver, Grant Green, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Kenny Burrell, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Smith or Lou Donaldson.
Released on Haggis Records, the label of the funk combo The Haggis Horns, album Scheming is a pure gem of this hard bop jazz which swings, which grooves and which dances with a false relaxation.
- FIP National Radio, FRANCE
"More classic in the system but no less interesting and worthy of attention - even by a non-expert audience - are The Jazz Defenders, from Bristol. Guided by George Cooper, keyboard player who, although very young, can already boast collaborations across the board, from Hans Zimmer to Slum VIllage, the combo debuts on Haggis Records, a label founded by The Haggis Horns, one of the most renowned British funk institutions. Their Scheming is swinging and catchy, solidly anchored to the tradition of Blue Note Records without forgetting the creativity and personality of the themes and grooves, as well as a certain lightness of approach that allows musicians to play with quotes and references that highlight and underline again their single virtuosity. Special mention for the original song Rosie Karima, romantic ballad that brings to mind the most inspired Joe Zawinul."
- Tony D'Onghia, Sentireascoltare.com, ITALY
"2019 has definitely been the year of finely recorded Jazz releases from across the globe and just as we thought the year was winding down, we’re treated to one last hurrah to go out with a bang. “Scheming” is the new debut album from The Jazz Defenders hailing from the UK on Haggis Records. What you’ll hear on “Scheming” is straight forward, no nonsense Jazz in it’s highest order that will have you doing a double take and questioning if this is something newly produced or a timeless session recorded during the 1960’s. But no need to question as this 10 tracker is indeed a complete set of original tunes written by Cooper and various members of the group and it’s obvious he knows just how to pull the right strings to bring everything together."
- Nostalgia King, USA
"The ten tracks of the "Scheming" long player by The Jazz Defenders, all produced by mastermind and pianist and organist George Cooper make a compact and light-footed impression, have enough time and space to breathe and leave untidy, free-thinking, puristic, but definitely handmade and Earth-bound jazz moments are just as there are clacking grooves and even really funky footsteps.
Nick Malcolm (trumpet), Nicholas Dover (saxophone), Will Harris (bass) and drummer Matt Brown work on their mastermind George Cooper in a clever and intelligent, but also emotionally free manner, which gives the album "Scheming" and the Jazz Defenders plenty of space to breathe and also to release untidy and always unexcited moments and consistently analogue feeling, which gives the debut album "Scheming" its justification and on many other things and a fascinating development of the band, which at some point, as well as the start with it also, hope to move away from Haggis Records and move on.
Until then, we will enjoy “Scheming” by The Jazz Defenders, of course and in a very contemporary way also available on vinyl as what it is: a compact, entertaining piece of contemporary jazz that lives in a retrospective and is not contradictory and that you can feel and almost feel can touch - that's the way it should be."
"An amazing album full of hard bop jazz in the spirit of 60s soul-jazz Blue Note era"
- Oonops - Brooklyn Radio, USA
- Jazz-fun.de, GERMANY
"An excellent record of pure be-bop from the English band coming from a rib of the prophets of funk, The Haggis Horns.
Great Groove and very pleasant listening in its academic and impeccable classicism.”
- Antonio Bacciocchi, ITALY
"Some of the best musicians in Britain"
- fano24.it, ITALY
“Impeccable execution!” - Rockerilla, ITALY
"Since the opening of the album with Top Down Tourism there has been a playful exchange between wind and piano, a stylistic figure that winks at the listener, supported by an impeccable execution and an evident harmony between the members of the band. Whether it's in more swing moments like in Everybody's Got Something or in the Latin jazz branches of She'll Come Round and Costa Del Lol (already from the name a fundamental clue that the group does not take itself too seriously), it is palpable how much these musicians have fun recording this record. The titletrack Scheming, a 60s soul boogaloo with absolute protagonist organ, the most intimate and delicate Rosie Karima, and the jazz-funk groove of Late also stand out, but this is one of those albums on which you can press play and let go from start to finish. A very successful reinterpretation of the spirit of 60s soul-jazz."
- Musicletter.it, ITALY
"The album, "Scheming", was released on Haggis Records, the label started by UK funk band The Haggis Horns.
Superfly takes a quick run through some of the highlights from that release.
Opener "Top Down Tourism" immediately sets the tone from the first notes of George Cooper's piano, played in a style reminiscent of Dave Brubeck's infectious riffs. "Everybody's Got Something" is a swinging number based around the fun exchange between sax and trumpet.
The title track switches things up with swirling organ taking the place of the piano. In "Late", the bass provides a solid groove for horns and piano to explore melodically. And things take a Latin-tinged turn in "Costa Del Lol", whose title underlines the playfulness of the entire album. "Rosie Karima" slows down the tempo and provides a beautiful intimate and delicate performance. Closing things off is the hypnotic and cool "Brown Down".
From first track to last it's evident The Jazz Defenders thoroughly enjoyed making this album. Check it out!
- Superfly, BELFAST, UK
- Jazzinfamily.com, SPAIN
Late Night Dream, UK
Led by one of the UK's most formidable Jazz pianists, George Cooper, The Jazz Defenders are a group born from a deep love of Blue Note Jazz, drawing on a wealth of inspiration to craft their own raw and vibrant compositions.
The hard bop recordings of Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan and Art Blakey were highly regarded for a reason - catchy horn lines and incredible musicianship combined with Rudy Van Gelder's engineering skills mean they will forever be regarded as classics of the genre. The Jazz Defenders are a group that would 'defend' the legacy of those recordings whilst creating its own original identity and distinctive flair. The music they produce together is a modern soul jazz slant on this classic Hard Bop, effortlessly channelling the spirit of the golden Blue Note era of Jazz.
The group's brainchild, pianist and composer George Cooper, has at a young age already amassed a comprehensive repertoire of musical credits including Hans Zimmer, Nigel Kennedy, U2, Slum Village, The Haggis Horns, Abstract Orchestra and Lack of Afro. Featuring some of the UK's finest players the line up is Nicholas Dover (tenor sax), Nick Malcolm (trumpet), Ian Matthews (drums), Will Harris (bass) and George Cooper (piano/keyboards).
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