EZRA COLLECTIVE | London, Islington Town Hall

“Five years of hard work,” are the first words Femi Koleoso cried out from behind his drum set. He and his friends had been on stage for all of five minutes in London’s Islington Assembly Hall. It’s not easy to imagine such dedication. Many of us can’t say we’ve devoted half a decade of our efforts to any single project. But you could feel the emotional struggle behind that in Femi’s voice when it breaks with every other word as he introduces the Ezra Collective to the crowd.
Still, it’s good to know the grind hasn’t worn them down. This young jazz act, drawing clear influence from afrobeats and hip hop, is all about energy. And it doesn’t take too long for that energy to wash over the hall, which is no mean feat with a typically reserved audience on a Sunday night.
After leading in with “The Philosopher”, a vibrant number that demonstrates their artistic grounding, they threw in a medley of crowd-pleasing covers, including classics from Cameo’s “Candy” to Fela Kuti’s “Zombie”. The furiously talented ensemble spun through their repertoire, never missing an opportunity to highlight each of their members’ talents in a variety of solos. Besides Femi on drums, James Mollison on tenor sax, Joe Armon Jones on keys and Dylan Jones on trumpet left their mark on every ear.
All this while calling out Jorja Smith and Nubya Garcia to share the stage with them and leaving us all wondering when they’ll grace London next.
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