Take the vitality of diverse Britain, set it to music. That’s why Ezra Collective deserve their Mercury prize | Hugh Muir

There is a musical and social power in the fusion of cultures we see in our inner cities. Plaudits to a band that captures that

Of the various baubles handed out to creative types each year, the Mercury prize is known for being one of the most political. The narrative matters. What’s big? Who do we reward? How does the prize itself stay relevant? And the Mercury prize 2023 for the best British or Irish album goes to Ezra Collective, the first time a jazz artist has won it. But however the judges got there, or why, this year they kind of got it right.

Two scenes. One is at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London. Ezra Collective are launching their new album, Where I’m Meant to Be. There are three shows that night – an early, an evening and a late – and Ezra are doing them all. They are all different. They are all packed. The sea of bald heads (including my own) and grey hairs customarily seen at Ronnie’s is displaced by healthy fine heads of hair and an energy that swirls like a vortex.

Hugh Muir is executive editor, Opinion

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