The story goes like this: a tight-knit new generation of musicians in London is shaking up the jazz scene as you know it, turning the ‘establishment’ on its head via grassroots gigs, independent labels, and a wild spirit of frontier-breaking: not so much G&Ts on the lawn, much more Bitches Brew.
Between varied artists such as Binker & Moses, Yussef Dayes, Zara McFarlane, and the many faces of Shabaka Hutchings, UK jazz is, to put it lightly, having a ‘moment’ – birthing a multicultural form of jazz that incorporates Afrobeat, dub, garage and grime mixed up with top-notch chops. And at the centre of the cyclone is the five-piece troupe Ezra Collective, with their enigmatic powerhouse of a drummer, Femi Koleoso – who the New York Times recently tracked down to talk about the scene.
Alongside Ezra Collective, Femi mans the traps for the saxophonist Nubya Garcia, and R&B ‘new big thing’ Jorja Smith – and you may have also caught his blistering drum solo in this Champions League advert back in the summer. He’s a man years-deep in his craft, bringing people a next-level musical experience, and – as the NYT profile points out – he’s changing the scene for the better, as part of the new jazz vanguard breaking it open to younger and more diverse players.
Make no mistake, Femi Koleoso is an artist who’s exactly where he ought to be.