Review: Ezra Collective @ Trinity Centre
Posted on: 2019-12-01
'There seemed to be a loose setlist in place, but why stick to score when you can improvise like a total genius?'
Never has a group of musicians brought more life and unity into the title 'collective' than Ezra Collective. Playing at the Trinity Centre on Friday night, the London-born five-piece brought sheer talent and energy in abundance to warm us up on an icy evening.
Comprised of Femi Koleoso on drums, Joe Armon-Jones on keys, TJ Koleoso on bass, Dylan Jones on trumpet and James Mollison on saxophone, Ezra Collective is a jazz troupe. But they are not the suited and booted types that play lilting jazz in sparkly clubs, while you take sips from an overpriced cocktail. No, they're the tracksuited and trainered type, forcing you to slosh the contents of your can over yourself as you get low to the rhythm.
Fundamentally, the sound itself is similar, but Ezra Collective's jazz is given more oomph; so much heart and pure unadulterated passion. Every single member of the collective is phenomenal at what they do. They are unbelievably talented musicians with an indubitable bond - it's a total pleasure to watch them play.
Taking the stage, armed with their respective instruments, the collective started with a bang: they rattled full throttle into the setlist. Each member was given a moment to improvise and tease the crowd, before flawlessly coinciding back into the original tune, alongside the other band members. There seemed to be a loose setlist in place, but why stick to score when you can improvise like a total genius? For us, in the audience, it was awe-inspiring and exciting to watch the band spin off-grid, tantalise with tempos and race with rhythms. It also seemed as though the other bandmates echoed the audience's awe and excitement, unknowing of which way their fellow musicians would turn next.
The setlist played host to tunes from the group's recent release and second album, You Can't Steal My Joy, including the dub flavours of 'Red Whine' and the hopelessly catchy 'Quest for Coin'. Other familiar tunes were smattered throughout the set including the unmistakable brass introduction to Fela Kuti's 'Water No Get Enemy', iconic noughties banger 'Sweet Like Chocolate' and interplanetary legend - and long term inspiration of the Collective - Sun Ra's 'Space is the Place'.
After a blistering start, the band's 'chief-beatmaker', Femi Koleoso, took to the microphone. He told the audience of their love for Bristol, how fundamental the city has been to the development of the band and the jazz movement as a whole. He encouraged the crowd to embrace the music; not to plead ignorance to the difficulties of the outside world, but as a means to share love and enjoy the moment. No one can deny we are living in a divisive, turbulent time. Still, after his rousing words, the whole room relaxed and indulged in their sound. There is nothing more potent than exceedingly talented musicians humbled by your presence at their performance.
Feeling moved and impressed by the liquid-like hands of Armon-Jones, the electric control of Koleoso on the drums, the hearty twangs of Koleoso on bass and the powerful hums of the brass duo, the set drew to a close with 'Sao Paulo'. By this point, everyone in the room was dancing. Indeed, it is not often that the hype and excitement running up to a gig can be surpassed by the event itself, but Friday's performance was utterly brilliant.
Ezra Collective @ Trinity Centre, Friday 29 November 2019
Originally from Stroud, Flora only moved to Bristol in February 2019 but has thrown herself into everything the city has to offer. By day she is making maps for Sustrans, by evening she can be found gigging or climbing and by night she could be DJing as Nigel Garage.