Ezra Collective: You Can’t Steal My Joy review – celebration of jazz’s diversity

Joy is a term readily associated with London jazz quintet Ezra Collective. Establishing themselves in recent years as central to the burgeoning London jazz scene through energetic live sets led by powerhouse band-leader Femi Koleoso, their self-released EPs – 2016’s Chapter 7 and 2017’s Juan Pablo: The Philosopher – have opened the genre up to younger and more diverse audiences attracted by their blend of afrobeat, hip-hop and soul improvisations.The release of their long-awaited debut LP continues this jazz-fusion narrative, opening with spiritual jazz classic Space Is the Place before moving on to the meditative piano of Philosopher II and neo-soul inflected rap of Loyle Carner-feature What Am I To Do?

While this generic meandering might seem jarring, Ezra Collective make it part of their ethos – a patchwork celebration of jazz’s enduring diversity. The collective’s strengths come in its longstanding telepathic musicianship with highlights on jazz-leaning instrumentals such as King of the Jungle and Shakara, featuring Kokoroko. The record is a joyous listen, which will only be enhanced on their forthcoming tour, and a confident assertion of Ezra Collective breaking out of the once-restrictive jazz enclave.

Watch the video for Juan Pablo: the Philosopher by Ezra Collective.


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