Ezra Collective: A track by track guide to new album ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’

26th April 2019

Ezra Collective have provided one of the most anticipated album releases of 2019 so far with their debut album ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’ – it doesn’t disappoint. 

Largely instrumental but with some appearances from vocalists including Loyle Carner and Jorja Smith, Ezra Collective’s debut has been patiently waited for by loyal fans. Those that have seen the five piece live know what they’re capable of; a nod towards the Jazz tradition without being constrained, animated afrobeat and grime tinged hard-hitters, and thumping drops. It’s Jazz, the way you want it.

Since the band’s conception, its members – Femi Koleoso (Drums), TJ Koleoso (Bass), Joe Armon-Jones (Keys), Dylan Jones (Trumpet) and James Mollison (Saxophone) – have been expanding on their creativity with their own projects and sideman opportunities. This album marks their progression and provides a milestone of achievement for the band. 

Check out our track by track guide to Ezra Collective’s ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’, which is out now on Enter The Jungle. 

1 \\ ‘Space is the Place’

This Sun Ra tune was originally covered by Ezra Collective for their ‘Pablo the Philosopher’ EP. Up-tempo and heavy in afrobeat references, this new arrangement is totally chill; actually slower than Sun Ra’s, Joe Armon-Jones’ keys lilt you into a dreamy landscape. 

2 \\ ‘Why You Mad?’

Fluttering cymbals clear the air for a fresh direction; anticipation builds with the volume before BOOM; brilliantly cacophonous, James Mollison’s sax and Dylan Jones’s trumpet go loose. This will start mosh pits. 

3 \\ ‘Red Whine’

Reggae rhythms set the scene for ‘Red Whine’; More ‘song-like’ in structure than some of the other instrumental tracks, it’s James Mollision who shines brightest on this offering. 

4 \\ ‘Quest For Coin’

The only instrumental leading track we heard pre-release, ‘Quest For Coin’ is a versatile track that will set feet alight at live shows and even a few club DJ sets. With some grime and bruk influences from Femi Koleoso, the rhythm – along with the brass stabs – creates a hooky, moorish soundtrack for 2019’s Jazz scene. Ezra Collective have the ability to inspire movement without inhibition; see this tune live and you’ll have proof. As with the theme of the album, it’s pretty joyous. 

5 \\ ‘Reason In Disguise (ft Jorja Smith)’

Femi Koleoso has developed a musical connection with UK star Jorja Smith as her touring drummer. Their collaboration on ‘Reason In Disguise’ shows that there is invitation and space for Jazz to be brought into more of a mainstream space. In return, Ezra Collective provide plenty of space and ambience for Jorja Smith to let her vocals roll, providing us with a moment of calm and vulnerability. 

6 \\ ‘What Am I To Do (ft Loyle Carner)’

Loyle Carner, who also dropped his new album today, demonstrates why he’s one of the UK’s most celebrated rappers right now. In creative interplay with bassist TJ Koleoso, Loyle flows on the stresses of being overwhelmed and burdened. There’s themes of frustration but ‘What Am I To Do’ is a case of engaged, easy listening. 

7 \\ ‘Chris and Jane’

It’s on tunes like this that you can almost hear that the Koleoso brothers are related; this undeniably afrobeat-swayed track is hooked around their tight interplay – and we love a woodblock beat. It’s the first time on the album we hear some major noodling from keys player Joe Armon-Jones. This will be a tune that further comes to life when seen live. We’re not sure who Chris and Jane are but we assume it’s not a song dedicated to the ice-skating duo. 

8 \\ ‘People Saved’ 

With a lightly calypso feel, ‘People Saved’ feels like one of the more reflective tracks on the album. One of the strongest compositionally, Ezra Collective have an element of grandeur here. 

9 \\ ‘Philosopher II’

Nods towards the Jazz tradition continue from ‘People Saved’ and into ‘Philosopher II’, with ears focused on Joe Armon-Jones. Normally tuned into more synth-focused textures, he’s totally stripped back here, showing us his first rate skills and swift transitions. 

10 \\ ‘São Paulo’

Ezra Collective hit Brazil recently for a string of live shows with Jazz re:freshed. If you saw their Instagram accounts, you’ll know they fell in love with the country – which may have inspired this tune. Samba and Latin tones underpin this up-tempo, celebratory number. 

11 \\ ‘King of the Jungle’ 

There’s something classic about this tune; it taps into a vibe you can imagine on the stage of an old skool Jazz club, with eruptions that are accented with Femi Koleoso’s animated attack on the cymbals. 

12 \\ ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’

Snare heavy and totally danceable, ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’ is jovial, celebratory and carries its kooks. It’s defiantly positive throughout; a mood lifter. 

13 \\ ‘Shakara (ft KOKOROKO)’

Two of London’s most celebrated Jazz-ish bands join forces. The thirteen musicians provide several highs throughout ‘Shakara’. An bad-ass up-tempo, foot-stomper. 

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