ALBUM REVIEW: Ezra Collective Dives into the Deep End on Sharp Debut

The London five-piece is leading the new-wave of UK jazz.

Ezra Collective dives into the deep end of the pool on their debut full-length, You Can’t Steal My Joy. With influences from hip-hop, rap, reggae, afrobeat, free form jazz and more, theLondon 5-piece delivers a truly unique listening experience.

Tracks like “Space is the Place” (a riff on the Sun Ra classic), “Reason in Disguise” (featuring breakout R&B star Jorja Smith) “What I Am I to Do,” and “Philosopher II” set up a late night vibe that’s perfect for a nocturnal drive through the city. Tracks like “Quest For Coin,” “Chris and Jane” and “Why You Mad?” mix up the vibe and showcase the group’s impressive originality.

The title track, “You Can’t Steal My Joy,” brings Ezra’s eclectic styles together into one remarkable piece. Drummer Femi Koleoso plays a tight and fast hip-hop-reggae grove that is completed so powerfully by bassist TJ Koleoso. Dylan Jones lights up a trumpet solo that would have made Miles Davis proud. Sounding just like Bitches Brew-era Miles, Jones’ use of altered harmonic lines, sparse rhythmic bites and phrase shaping show he’s a true student of the late legend. Joe Armon-Jones brings the track home with his hip lines and tasteful comping on the keyboards.

Combining grand influences from the past with cutting edge sounds of the present and future, You Can’t Steal My Joy introduces Ezra Collective at their most raw and transparent, so far delivering on their self-proclaimed mission statement of “pioneering the new-wave of UK jazz music.”

Score: 😃😃😃😃/5