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Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University. While the group’s previous EPs, ‘Chapter 7’ and ‘Juan Pablo The Philosopher’, have been essential to their success, ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’ feels like the first record that truly defines what Ezra Collective is about. “We’re trying to get people to dance and have the best day of their week at our shows. Safe to say that life has been good to Ezra Collective recently. “Being with these guys, it’s given [me] a chance to be real and comfortable,” says TJ.  “When you’re with your friends you’re comfortable, and there’s no façade that you’ve got to put on.” He admits that while the group have always been close, Ezra Collective hasn’t always been as laidback a project as it is today. Rising from the London scene Joe plays with many other artists including Nubya Garcia , Mr Jukes as well as Ezra Collective. Pizzas finished and plates cleared, the waiters start to hover in a way that suggests it’s time for our interview to end. Ezra Collective. While we wait, the group’s manager, Amy, takes it upon herself to order seven people’s worth of pizza for the four of us who are here – myself, Amy, TJ and the group’s PR, Ben. Dr Alba Fedeli writes about her re-discovery for the LA Review of Books. The three institutions Femi highlights tell you a lot about Ezra Collective. It was premiered as Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record in The World’ on Radio One; no small feat for an instrumental jazz track. Roundhouse in London. Femi, Joe, James, Dylan and TJ know as well as anyone that to make it as a young musician in London, let alone a young jazz musician in London, you have to work hard. “But if we can continue to cherish the moments we play together – that feeling of joy of being together – that’s what matters.”, Find more Loud And Quiet cover features.Â. It’s a moment that sums up Ezra Collective nicely: at once wildly ambitious but also cautious of avoiding the po-faced seriousness that has blighted jazz music for the last half-century. Ezra Collective are a five-piece jazz band from London, who celebrate the traditions of their predecessors yet simultaneously carving their own path, by teaming up jazz with afrobeat and hip hop. Saturday 30th November 2019. Moses Boyd, a drummer, friend of the band and fellow Tomorrow’s Warriors graduate, has a residency on Radio 1Xtra. Ezra Collective The Hare And Hounds. “As we go forward it’s going to get harder and tougher,” Femi admits. The Black Keys, The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA. “I looked at jazz in the same way a lot of people in the audience might,” he tells me. This autumn Leftfoot promoters and the Jazzlines programme at Town Hall Symphony Hall have collaborated to run a series of concerts with key bands of this new generation, Sons of Kemet, Yussef Dayes, Kamaal Williams, Ezra Collective and Alfa Mist. Resonance Records Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins and Monty Alexander Giveaway, Olsen, Stewart, Berne & Mitchell, Laubrock, QMRplus, and, Dawid, Scott Jones, Pickpocket Funk, Marcus Miller and more, Joshua White, Mara Rosenbloom & Australian Art Orchestra, Tribute to radio presenter and musician the late Tony Palkovic, Stefano Bollani "Let's Move to Cleveland". Birmingham, West Midlands B9 4AG. The next week, I meet up with Femi and TJ in North London to listen to the test-pressing of ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’. That club, as it turns out, was Dalston’s Café Oto, one of many venues that have become vital spots in the network of London jazz. “It came down to the fact that we just enjoy playing music together, so we took that and ran with it. Then Jorja [Smith] was gonna play Montreux jazz fest the next day, so we asked her to come up, and we played a version of ‘On My Mind’. Ezra Collective. ... Birmingham Mom Collective is a locally-focused parenting resource for moms and families. And the band least restrained by the genre’s sometimes elitist rules, Words by Mike Vinti Photos by Gabriel Green. “That’s where my rebellion came from. He’s just got back from a date in Dublin, although Ryanair didn’t make the process easy. ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’ was formed over years of playing together, to audiences of all persuasions, all over the world. “A lot of the curriculum said to me it wasn’t ok to like Skepta because there’s no 1-6-2-5-1 turnaround at the end of his verse,” Femi says forlornly. Before we’re turfed out for good I ask the group for their favourite moments of Ezra Collective so far. As such, the group buzzes with that chemistry that’s unique to school mates. If you enjoy our articles, photography and podcasts, please consider becoming a subscribing member. The day before our interview, the group announced their debut album to the world and shared lead single ‘Quest for Coin’. Membership has its privileges. “We’ve had gigs where people are coming from three different continents to make an Ezra show,” Femi says matter-of-factly. You’re available, you’re all free, so we’re going.’”, Jump forward to the day of the show. Having either grown up across London or spent a lot of time in the city thanks to Tomorrow’s Warriors, the members of Ezra Collective are as united by their love for grime, soul and hip hop as they are by their passion for jazz. The strength of Ezra Collective’s music, then, is also testament to the strength of their friendship. Following on from the success of the autumn Jazz Series in partnership with Leftfoot we welcome back Ezra Collective keyboard player and producer Joe Armon -Jones. Ezra Collective. “When that offer came in, I thought we’d made it, but the moment we put our instruments down we realised there was more.”. This event is now in the past - Ezra Collective at The Hare And Hounds on Monday, 12 Nov 2018 at 7:30 PM. That party didn’t end… it was light before I got to my room.”, I ask them who else was at the celebration. It’s not even a rebellion, it’s just an understanding that the reason Charlie Parker is so hip is that he allowed his influences to come through, and it’s the same with Dizzy, Miles and Coltrane. For us, there’s an energetic joy,” Femi says of the group’s dynamic. Birmingham has a long history of researching ancient texts. One moment, you will be redirected shortly. It was the pengest day of the year, it was so hot.”. Once the album drops, things will get more intense, especially as the scene’s profile rises with them. Grade 2 Listed community music venue in Kings Heath, Birmingham. The COVID-19 crisis has cut off our advertising revenue stream, which is how we’ve always funded how we promoted new independent artists. “They’re angry; they’re depressed; there are so many issues that surround being a young man growing up in London. Follow to get notified of new releases. And as they’ve attracted a younger, more open-minded audience, Ezra Collective have been able to become bolder in their experimentations. “To be honest, the moment you say that you’re a jazz band and more than eight people show up, that means there are no boundaries…” Femi laughs. Ezra Collective have announced a UK tour for late November. They take away the rose and special Valentine’s menu from the middle of the table. Last Wave Collective DIY music and art collective/ distro/ booking in Birmingham, Al. On Twitter and Instagram last summer he shared a picture of himself, along with the rest of her band, chilling backstage with Snoop Dogg. “This hotel was co-rect! Amy loves all things girls ministry and has authored a few LifeWay Girls Bible studies. ... Handsworth-born Xhosa Cole is an embodiment of the success of numerous community arts programmes in Birmingham. “That’s an open bar. As soon as the group are all together jokes fly and stories are swapped. Regardless of what’s happening on a daily basis, the fact we can go to Steam Down freely and have a dance and have fun, or go to Fabric or Wireless, or whatever it is, [makes us happy].”. You’re looking him in the eye, and he was vibing. Sunday night’s on-stage concert performed by the Broadway cast of the 15-time Tony Award-nominated musical Jagged Little Pill has been made available on-demand by Stellar for a … Café Oto on New Year’s Eve…” Sometimes even the members of Ezra Collective can’t quite believe that they have people dancing to Sun Ra. “A lot of people when they come to the shows – especially in the early days – they would say, ‘my mate told me to come, I was against it because I didn’t like jazz, but I’m glad I did because I didn’t know that could be jazz.’”. Femi’s first career break came as a live drummer for veteran rapper Pharaoh Monch, and alongside his duties in Ezra he plays in Jorja Smith’s band, touring the world with the singer. On ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’, the band only improve on that grove-centric approach. “Quincy sits right in the front row,” he continues, “so you know if it’s going well or not. This Venue pages is a Stub. Having seen their peers land radio shows, get nominated for major, non-jazz specific awards, and even land top ten records (Kamaal Williams’ latest album ‘The Return’ debuted at number eight in the album chart last year) Ezra want to see just how far they can go. We went in, it was Swiss Airways, they give you little chocolates… anyway, we get there… do you remember the hotel blud? So, it started from there. Monday, 12 Nov 2018 at 7:30 PM. While they’ve been together as Ezra Collective for almost seven years, every member balances their work in the band with a side project, day job or gig as a touring musician. “There was one club that played it as their New Year’s Eve track going from 2017 into 2018, they played it at midnight,” Femi says, to his bandmates as much as to me. Take that closing cover of ‘Shakara’, for example; a collaboration with fellow Londoners KOKOROKO. Learn more. TJ is one member of the group that didn’t study music, opting instead to complete a degree in physiotherapy. Femi and Joe both play in saxophonist Nubya Garcia’s band, James plays in several other projects, as does Dylan, and Joe has already sold out Village Underground as a solo artist. Steam Down, a jam session that takes place in a Caribbean café in Deptford every Wednesday, has been a meeting point for the scene’s best talents, while Fabric and Wireless speak to the heavy influence that both dance and rap music have on Ezra’s sound. “A lot of musicians will tell you that when they’re in a sad place it helps them make music, but for us, it’s the opposite,” says Joe. However, even post-TPAB it wasn’t until the group started playing live regularly that they realised there was a growing audience for their sound. The whole idea to record the cover in the first place was born when Ezra Collective performed Fula Kuti’s most loved hits at a Church of Sound show. As we leave the restaurant and head out onto the concrete plains of the South Bank Centre, James sidles up to me and casually mentions that his favourite moment may actually be the time that Quincy Jones invited the group to perform at his birthday party last year. All rights reserved. It’s an approach that underpins not just Ezra Collective’s sound but the sound of London’s young jazz scene as a whole. With the help of peers such as Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia, Kamaal Williams and every project touched by Shabaka Hutchings, Ezra Collective have not only been reviving the London jazz scene, but redefining it also. “Glasper was playing at Ronnie Scott’s but covering J Dilla beats. The same phenomenon is occurring in Birmingham. I met Mos Def when I was eighteen and I was on tour with Pharaoh Monch, and I’ve met him about three times since then, so I wouldn’t say we’re bredrins, but he looked at me and he started singing ‘Space Is the Place’ – the Ezra Collective version!” Ezra’s PR Ben and I look at them, stunned. Nightlapse. Find more Radio articles “Can you imagine the brers that turn up there? Elbow, Manchester, UK. The band's members include Femi Koleoso, TJ Koleoso, Joe Armon Jones, Dylan Jones and James Mollison. Hermon Mehari, Ezra Collective, Zappa for piano & New Releases article by Ludovico Granvassu, published on July 15, 2020 at All About Jazz. Their live show is one of dynamic union; the strength of their partnership shines in performances that are commanding yet sensitive, soulful and … Even though most of us are subject to these things that make life difficult, London’s a happy place, I would argue for that. Tickets for the shows go on sale at 10am on Thu 18 Apr. I needn’t worry, though; it soon becomes clear that Joe and all of the group’s members are happy to be here. Midnight Chats: Listen back to all the episodes from Series 10 of our interview podcast, Femi Koleoso: Midnight Chats – Episode 98, I was feeling really sad about it all until I listened to Ezra Collective's debut LP. The unique blend of young instrumentalists with differing influences means Ezra Collective has a unique sound which is a … The Resonant Rogues - The Resonant Rogues- Waiting for the Rain 2. “Was it DJ Khaled?” Joe chimes in sarcastically, prompting another howl of laughter from the band. As much as they’re ready to take their modern jazz worldwide, Ezra Collective know that the pressure is rising. Dylan Jones, the group’s trumpet player, will join them later for our photoshoot. Go to any of the group’s shows and the number of young people will usually far outweigh the older, more purist crowd that you’ll find in any of the city’s jazz clubs. I love the way this city invites my girl to dream, play, and explore. It may have been written decades ago in Nigeria, but played by these two groups together it’s the sound of years spent practising at Tomorrow’s Warriors and evenings dedicated to blowing the roof off Steam Down. “The best music we make is when we’re in a good place.”. Read More Related Articles. Their approach is one that seeks to reform the jazz establishment, not reject it. Robbers Roost - Robbers Roost- Cellar Door 3. The group met just down the road from where we are today, at Tomorrow’s Warriors, a youth jazz programme run by bassist and all-around British jazz icon Gary Crosby. I’m here to meet and eat with Ezra Collective. Rather than bombard the listener with dense horn passages or overly complex polyrhythms (something that a band like The Comet is Coming do so well), Ezra Collective prioritise groove. ... Mason Collective. In this, the boundaries between personal and collective tragedy become blurred, and each is invested with the properties of the other. While they have their criticisms of conservatoire education and the jazz establishment, the genre is still their first love. It was only recently, really, when we realised that we were going against the narrative.”, “The narrative of a young man in London is so often portrayed as negative in every way,” his brother elaborates. “Mos Def jumped up; that was pretty cool…” TJ says absent-mindedly. The waiter is a little confused but obliging. Hip Hop/ Jazz "Ezra Collective is the award winning London based band born out of Tomorrows Warriors UK organisation for jazz music. As the album’s release draws closer the thing that excites them most is that it will allow them to do more. Our conversation frequently erupts into fits of laughter, drawing a couple of sideways glances from the kind of couples whose romantic ideal is a Pizza Express within walking distance of Waterloo Station. Listening to ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’ it’s hard to argue that they’ve been anything other than successful in their attempts. This led to an award which saw Ezra supporting Terence … The Dark Legend of the Devil's Bible. In the past couple of years they’ve gone from jazz-head obscurity to being featured in The New York Times and touring the world. Kamaal Williams teamed up with grime MC Mez for a rework of the Yussef Kamaal track ‘Strings of Light’. !” he shouts, kissing his teeth for emphasis. North Base. Privacy Policy | We do not sell or share your personal information | © 2020 All About Jazz. Minimum Age: 14. Presented by drummer Moses Boyd and DJ Jamz Supernova, the Jazz 625 studio hosts performances from saxophonist Nubya Garcia, groups Ezra Collective … Catch Ezra Collective at the following shows: November 12 Birmingham Hare & Hounds 13 Bristol Thekla 14 Brighton Patterns 15 Manchester The Deaf Institute 16 Leeds The Wardrobe 17 Nottingham Bodega. At one point I look across from me and realise that Joe has been covertly rolling a joint under the table. Joe begins filling his bandmates in on the details of his solo tour, which he’s in the middle of the day we meet. One of the hottest groups on the resurgent London jazz scene, Ezra Collective is pushing the boundaries of music to create an exciting new take on this classic genre. Find more Ezra Collective performances Help. The hint of exasperation in his voice suggests he’s only half-joking. Part of that hard work has been a constant fight against the very institutions that helped them earn their credentials. Birmingham legend Mike Skinner is set to play Parklife 2019 with his ... will also welcome Cardi B and chart-topping singer songwriter George Ezra. “The moment I walked up Mos Def looked at me. I start to feel guilty that he’s been forced to spend his one day off with me and a Sloppy Giuseppe. Like the best of friendship groups, the members of Ezra Collective aren’t afraid to show their appreciation for one another. “That must have been a weird party!” saxophonist James laughs. Ezra Collective at Thekla (Image: Bristol Live) They begin with The Philosopher, ... "People were crying at that last night in Birmingham," jokes Femi. “We’ve got to keep that tunnel vision of looking ahead,” Joe says when I ask if they’re starting to feel like they’ve made it, “that’s what got us here in the first place.”, “I remember thinking the greatest achievement we could have in music was headlining Ronnie Scott’s,” Femi agrees. All rights reserved. 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