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A band I love - Ezra Collective

Grace Campbell finds she is exactly where she wants to be with Mercury Prize winners Ezra Collective


Ezra Collective has become a name on everyone's mind following their recent achievement as the first jazz band to win the prestigious Mercury award.

London jazz outfit Ezra Collective

This London-based outfit, originating from a music youth group, has not only redefined jazz but also carved a unique niche by seamlessly blending genres such as Afrobeat, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban music, reggae, R&B and grime, all while reaching a mainstream audience.

Celebrating a decade since their debut performance, Ezra Collective released the album Where I'm Meant to Be, serving as a testament to pushing boundaries and growth. Known for their outstanding live performances, my experience of seeing the group several months ago at the Waterford festival 'All Together Now' was nothing short of fantastic.

From the moment Ezra Collective took the stage, the atmosphere transformed into a joyous spectacle. Palpable energy radiated through the crowd as the band seamlessly navigated intricate musical pieces. Waves of slowing down dispersed into moments of resounding build-ups, creating a dynamic and engaging journey.

A pivotal moment occurred when the band encouraged everyone in the audience to turn to the person beside them and introduce themselves. This simple act fostered an immediate sense of unity. Suddenly, it wasn't just a crowd watching a performance; it was a collective experience.

The anticipation leading up to this gig was heightened by my prior research into the band's "Are you where you are meant to be?" campaign. The out-of-home billboards in London, coupled with their digital presence across various cities, the orange warped font, and bright visuals conveyed a powerful message about being present in the moment. The slick videography of buzzing performances hyped up my expectations of what was to come. As Ezra Collective took the stage, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, and the message became clear – we were all exactly where we were meant to be, revelling in the music and the shared experience.

Musically, Ezra Collective demonstrated technical prowess, uplifting melodies, and a unique sound that captivated the audience. The chemistry between the band members, particularly the call-and-response between frontmen TJ Koleoso and Ife Ogunjobi, was entertaining. Joe Armon Jones's piano riffs were amazing, leaving both the audience and the band itself in awe. The songs Welcome to My World and Victory Dance were two pieces that stood out to me. Despite the absence of vocals, which I am typically used to at a gig, nothing felt missing from this performance whatsoever.

Even amid the mud and rain, smiles were plastered across everyone's faces. It served as a reminder that, sometimes, the most profound moments happen when you're fully present – exactly where you are meant to be.

I anticipate that the coming year will be filled with more extraordinary music from this 5-piece, no doubt making appearances on many summer festival line-ups.


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