Monday 24 June 2019

'You Can't Steal My Joy' by Ezra Collective

The highly-anticipated full-length project from the Ezra Collective, 'You Can't Steal My Joy', finally sees its official release on Enter the Jungle Records.

With two critically-acclaimed EP releases under their belts with 'Chapter 7' in 2016 and 'Juan Pablo: The Philosopher' in 2017, the London five-piece have finally come together to gift fans the album they've waited oh-so-patiently for!  But any time in between projects has certainly been productive - the Ezra members have continued to establish themselves as individual performers as well contributing to some of the UK's most exciting jazz projects over the last few years...

Comprising the collective is accomplished bassist TJ Koleoso, drummer Femi Koleoso who has graced projects by pianist Sarah Tandy ('Infection in the Sentence') and served as a member of Camilla George's Quartet ('Isang'); saxophonist James Mollison is having a particularly excellent year with the release of Cykada's debut project on Astigmatic Records as well; trumpeter Dylan Jones chalks up past session work with Blue Lab Beats and Moses Boyd Exodus, and group pianist Joe Armon-Jones celebrated the release of his revered debut solo album on Brownswood Recordings last year, 'Starting Today', as well as having chalked up an awesome list of past collaborations over the years with artists like Daniel Casimir and Jasmine Power.

It's a stunning array of projects and collaborations that have gone a long way in paving the road for everything involved in 'You Can't Steal My Joy'.  The band's eclectic and diverse blend of dynamic jazz draws from influences including hip-hop and afrobeat with distinctly transcendent results: just listen to their live BBC version of Shanks & Bigfoot's 'Sweet Like Chocolate' for further proof.
While 'Chapter 7' and 'Juan Pablo: The Philosopher' boasted pairings with rapper Ty, Zara McFarlane, Nubya Garcia and Theon Cross, 'You Can't Steal My Joy' introduces R&B vocalist Jorja Smith on the excellent 'Reason in Disguise', rapper Loyle Carner (who released his own excellent 'Not Waving, But Drowning' album earlier this year) appears on 'What Am I To Do?', and the incredible afrobeat ensemble, KOKOROKO, guest on 'Shakara'.  And to whet your appetite even further, First Word Records recording artist Eric Lau is recruited to tackle the album's mixing duties throughout.

Anything bearing the name "Ezra Collective" will continue to be warmly embraced by fans the world over but they will also eagerly anticipate the successes of the band's individual members as well as they continue to solidify their own name(s) and wave the flag for London's all-too-exciting jazz scene.  'You Can't Steal My Joy' is a shining example of their efforts and a stunning contribution to this year's album releases.

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