“Maybe a jazz band doesn’t have to look like five guys in suits playing in an elite club. Maybe it can look like a bunch of black and white guys in tracksuits, jumping around in KOKO. It’s all about those contrasts.” Femi Koleoso, drummer and bandleader of Ezra Collective, sits across from me dressed all in black, sipping on a fruit-flavoured cider as he muses on his genre’s evolution.
It’s late afternoon on Valentine’s Day and he hunches down to text on his phone as I ask each question, bursting back to life and gesturing animatedly with each response. For perhaps the most exciting band to come out of the nascent London jazz scene in recent years, I’m sure there are other, more exciting places Femi could be right now.
One place could be with Quincy Jones. Femi and his bandmates played the iconic producer’s birthday party in Montreux last year, at the behest of the man himself. Sharing a line-up with US heavyweights like Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Robert Glasper, Femi was unfazed. “That party was a madness,” he says in his north London drawl, laughing mischievously. “But this is happening more and more. There’s a feeling of being really honoured to be somewhere but at the same time knowing that we deserve to be there, that we weren’t intruding.”
Read the feature in Crack Magazine.
[This piece was published on 26/04/19]