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Review: Ife Ogunjobi @ Bristol Jazz Festival

A stunning performance from the Ezra Collective trumpeter reflected the Bristol Jazz Festival's soul.

By Jake Paterson, Music Editor

Rebranded and refreshed, the Bristol Jazz Festival marked its debut in its new home of the Tobacco Factory with a series of joyful events. The real gem amongst the collectives, individuals and big bands was Ife Ogunjobi, famed for playing with Mercury Prize winning Ezra Collective, who released his debut solo work at the tail end of last year.

Having grown up with the influential Bronswood compliation We Out Here released in 2018, it has been a delight to see this generation of musicians such as Nubya Garcia, Kokoroko and Shababka Hutchings emerge into the headlines. Jazz is slowly creeping into households that have never heard of Thelonious Monk through vibrant compositions tackling Afrobeat and Hip-Hop to name just two. As a member of Ezra Collective, Ife Ogunjobi has toured the world and recently marked the historic Mercury win with a sold out performance at the Royal Albert Hall. 

In a set consisting of tracks from his EP Stay True, new cuts and a cover thrown in, Ife showcased his talents and ability to get the party started. Taking our seats in the packed out theatre, it was not long before Ife asked us to get to our feet and dance. Young couples, parents with children, wealthy old white guys; everyone was under Ife's command.

Now a bandleader, Ife was joined on stage by the incredibly talented musicians Zoe Pascal on drums, Deschanel Gordon on keys, Mutale Chashi on Bass and Moses Olukayode who stunned the crowd with the talking drum. Improvisations sprung out of sudden reworkings to spectacular effect, whilst the core rhythms from the recorded compositions were always at hand. 

The Bristol crowd embraced each track with rapturous applause. Though definitely not without a jazz scene of its own, it was a pleasure to see professionals touch base in our city and inspire up-and-comers to make their next step. 

The Tobacco Factory served as the perfect venue for the occasion. The place was rammed; the bar queue was huge, the free stage full of musicians and people watching on, and conversations were spilling out into the streets. 

As the title of the EP suggests, staying true to yourself means that people will come in search of genuine life stories, and when you can say it with the trumpet as well as Ife has proved there will be many sticking by you for years to come. 

The Bristol Jazz Festival will return in 2025. 

Featured Image: Jake Paterson

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