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The New Cool: Meet England's Ezra Collective

Stephen Leigh/Funkyfeet Photography
Kids these days.... England's Ezra Collective have that attitude!

The modern confluence of reggae, hip hop, electronic and afro-beat music seeps to the surface of jazz in the talented young English quintet Ezra Collective. You'll hear a song from their new release Juan Pablo: The Philosopher on their New Cool debut this Saturday afternoon on KNKX.

Emerging out of the London youth jazz program Tomorrow's Warriors, they won the Yamaha Jazz Experience Competition five years ago and also started getting the attention of young dance music fans.

The Ezra Collective wears their influences proudly: afro-beat meets modern rhythms, all tied together by a thorough jazz education. Atop this musical mix is the group's undeniable youthful energy and power. To attend an Ezra Collective performance would seem to require dependable dancing shoes and maybe, in my case, some pre-concert stretching.

The group consists of brothers Femi and TJ Koleoso at the drums and bass, Joe Armon-Jones at the piano, Dylan Jones on trumpet and James Mollison featured on sax. The band's name gives away a spiritual side as well, a nod to a vocal biblical prophet who taught people about the past so they could understand the present. They also recognize that honoring the musical giants who paved their path is part of the jazz and blues tradition.

The lone cover on the 5-song Juan Pablo EP is Sun Ra's famous "Space is the Place" and was released as the first single. It's a great example of the band's sound: the pulsing, driving rhythm section settles into an iron-tight groove, electric keys bounce around the melody, horns layering the ensemble hook before moving into solos.

You'll hear the title song on The New Cool this week, set solidly in the Nigerian church rhythms the Koleoso brothers grew up hearing, and built to get feet moving. From peeks at their live shows, getting their listeners dancing is a high priority for this talented British "fab five". Until then, enjoy Ezra Collective live in London:

There's plenty of "extra new" New Cool coming Saturday includes new releases from Rohey, Charlie Ballentine, Hello Skinny, Vijay Iyer Sextet, Kamasi Washington, Seattle's 45th St Brass, and a studio session performance from the Barrett Martin Group of a song from the drummer's soon-to-be-released album Transcendence.

The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.