Royal Albert Hall, London
Fresh from their Mercury prize win, the genre-melting, future-building London party band bring out guests aplenty in a night of inspirational, infectious joy
High up in the penultimate tier of the Albert Hall, two spotlit heralds blast out a fanfare on trumpet and tenor sax. They are answered by a deep dub bassline on stage. A wild-haired pianist limbers his fingers across a keyboard while drummer and Ezra Collective band leader Femi Koleoso – arriving on stage like a boxer to the ring – raises his arms, acknowledging the crowd’s roar, before he’s even hit a snare.
Ezra Collective have many things going for them: conservatoire musical chops on the one hand, and an instinctive understanding of how genre barriers are there to be dismantled on the other. Their jazz throws its arms around grime, carnival and J Dilla; it’s built for Afro-Cuban links. But one of the strengths that has served this north London fusion party band particularly well in their decade of progress to their recent Mercury music prize win has been their commitment to putting on a show.
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