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The latest from London's leaders in modern jazz

London's Ezra Collective continue their tribute series to the Star Wars universe
Artwork by Rok Ogorevc
London's Ezra Collective continue their tribute series to the Star Wars universe

This week, the New Cool checks in on the London modern jazz scene. Two of the city's most popular groups have new music out now. Ezra Collective finds funk inspiration in the movies, while Binker & Moses search out freedom in technology.

The five members of Ezra Collective found time for jam sessions during pandemic lockdowns. Afrobeat and hip-hop rhythm continue to guide the band, and the spontaneity of loose recording sessions led to wonderfully organic collaboration.

"May the Funk Be With You" marks the third in Ezra Collective's tribute songs for the Star Wars universe, following "Mace Windu Riddim" and "Dark Side Riddim". Ife Ogunjobi takes a strong trumpet solo, with drummer Femi Koleoso in firm control of the funky up-tempo groove.

Released March 1, the band's first single of the new year holds the promise of a new Ezra Collective album later in 2022.

Binker and Moses - Feed Infinite (Official Visualiser)

Saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd burst onto the modern jazz charts with their 2015 debut album, Dem Ones. Their expansive sound modernizes traditional African music, developing a dramatic ambient atmosphere.

The co-leaders have collaborated together and separately with numerous musicians since their previous album five years ago. The new Binker & Moses collection, Feeding the Machine, employs Max Luthert as a third band member on electronics and tape loops.

At times frenetic and intense, then meditative and thoughtful, the new music imagines a future where organic sounds meet machine music in a hopeful dystopia.

"Feed Infinite", which preceded the album as a single in 2021, gradually builds a blend of electronic effects, echoing sax tones, and shifting drums. Nearly two minutes in, they develop a spare melodic framework and slowly dance around it's improvisational opportunities. It's a hypnotic journey and the highlight of Feeding the Machine.

Aside from new music from Ezra Collective and Binker & Moses, plenty of new releases from the exploding modern jazz scene in England continue to emerge. U.S. fans are hopeful tours will soon follow. KNKX keeps you connected to modern jazz around the globe and in our own backyard, stay tuned for what comes next.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.

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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.