Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Much current London jazz revolves around prime-mover/saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and his bands The Comet is Coming, The Ancestors and Sons of Kemet. And fellow travellers like the all-women Nérija which includes spellbinding guitarist Shirley Tetteh and saxophonist Nubya Garcia (whose 2020 solo album Source is exceptional).
This music pulls from classic Sixties jazz but hauls in grime, Afro-Caribbean sounds, hip-hop and other contemporary styles with roiling energy.
Ezra Collective – lead by drummer Femi Koleoso and his bassist brother T.J. – have been part of this morphing movement for a decade, played a Quincy Jones birthday party, won numerous jazz accolades and deliver this second album after their slightly uneven 2020 debut You Can't Steal My Joy.
Those titles indicate their confidence and on this double album they have guest rappers Sampa the Great (appearing at 2023's Taranaki's Womad) on the boisterous, percussion-driven Afrobeat of Life Goes On and Kojey Radical for the equally energetic No Confusion.
The always impressive Emeli Sandé brings soul to the quieter Siesta.
Courtesy of trumpeter Ife Ogunjobi and saxophonist James Mollison, this is horn-heavy party music: Victory Dance goes to Cuba and Rio with mad piano by Joe Armon-Jones; the Afrobeat of Welcome to My World is underpinned by a rippling organ groove; Ego Killah is dub reggae-jazz . . .
Ezra Collective remind you – as do Big Joanie – how contemporary British music reinvigorates and reinvents itself by fusing the past with current musical and cultural environments.
“Result!” as they say over there.
You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here.