Ezra Collective is a London-based group featuring Dylan Jones on trumpet, Femi Koleoso on drums, TJ Koleoso on bass, James Mollison on sax, and Joe Armon-Jones on keyboards. After putting out an EP and working on a few one-off collaborations, the group finally released their debut album in 2019 with You Can’t Steal My Joy. Now, after three years where the musicians worked on all sorts of different projects, they have come back together stronger than ever to release their sophomore album, Where I’m Meant To Be.

The crazy thing about a group like Ezra Collective is that they are all such in demand musicians/producers/songwriters/etc. with so many different projects cooking at any moment, it would be easy for the group itself just to be a fun jam session kind of situation. And nobody would really be mad at that. If these five are just messing around and having fun, I’m still listening - they are just that talented. However, Ezra Collective clearly went into their sophomore album with a vision and a mission to raise the level of the group as a whole. Across this album, they are delving into hip hop, R&B, funk, dub, Afrobeat, and of course, jazz, all while keeping everything in flowing and in conversation with everything else. It’s the type of album that you might think you have figured out when you listen to the first track, only to get the second track and have to completely reconfigure what you thought their sound was, and continuing to repeat the process with each song. What makes this ambitious project work is a couple of things. One, there is some really clever songwriting and arranging throughout the album, always finding these through points with the music so that it never sounds drastic when they switch gears and delve into a different genre. Second, they are all incredible instrumentalists who can handle whatever you throw at them, and they have unbelievable chemistry together as an ensemble. Third, they find just the right collaborators to round out the album and take everything up a notch, with Sampa the Great, Kojey Radical, Emile Sandé, Steve McQueen, and Nao all stopping by to give the album their own unique flavor. All of this comes together to make an amazing album that takes you all sorts of different twists and turns, each one more enjoyable than the last.

Where I’m Meant To Be is an ambitious sophomore album from Ezra Collective, and by challenging themselves to think bigger, they have reached a higher level as a group. This is a musically adventurous album, and it succeeds because not only are they talented individuals, but they come together extremely well to focus and push each other. They have made something with this album that is greater than the sum of its parts.