The Jazz Defenders: Memory In Motion

Energetic Bristol quintet updates the hard-bop tradition, smoothly blending soul and hip-hop with straightahead jazz


Ok, first things first, this is a cracker of an album! I love how the Jazz Defenders keep a toe in the rich history of jazz but also are forward thinking enough to push the genre on in a way that welcomes fans of the classics but also encourages new listeners to the genre.

What is the old saying? If things don’t evolve, they die… something like that, and how many times have we heard that jazz is dead or is a dying genre? Well, not on the Jazz Defenders watch, and they should be celebrated far more widely than they are. We’ve got soul and hip-hop standing arm-in-arm with straight-up jazz and the sound is so rich you feel as if you’re listening to sonic diamonds encased in platinum and palladium.

Immediately this album grabs you: Meanderthal is pure Horace Silver, The Long Haul brings you bang up to date with a hint of GoGo Penguin before Rolling On A High offers groove by the truckload with guest vocalist/rapper Doc Brown offering something a little different (but also sounding totally fitting with the mood of the album). Then the band takes you through different flavours of jazz with Take A Minute (great bass tone!), the brilliantly named Fuffle Kershuffle and Snakebite Playfight before landing on Net Zero and a cool end with Enigma (Live In Paris).

This is great stuff. The album crackles and zips in equal measure and should be on your turntable as soon as you get the chance. This is a band full of energy, ideas and the musical talent to make magic. Fantastic stuff, highly recommended.

Meanderthal; The Long Haul; Chasing Fantasies; Rolling On A High; Take A Minute; Fuffle Kershuffle; Snakebite Playfight; Net Zero; Enigma (Live In Paris) (40.32)
Collectively, George Cooper (p, org, vib, pc); Ian Matthews (d); Will Harris (b, elb); Nick Malcolm (t); Jake McMurchie (s); Doc Brown (v); Gemma Bott (bv). Bristol, 2023.
Haggis Records HRCD008