Kokoroko

15/01/19London's Innovative Afrobeat Collective Is Keeping The Groove Alive, New EP Out Soon

We first chanced upon this eight-piece, London-based afrobeat collective about a year ago, when they premiered their sublime track "Abusey Junction", that featured on the 2018-released Brownswood Recordings compilation "We Out Here" and was just recently shortlisted for the upcoming "Gilles Peterson Worldwide Awards Track of the Year" (to take place this Saturday, January 19th at KOKO in London). In any case Kokoroko's is a music that travels, as the "all-star band featuring leading lights from the London jazz community" innovatively blends "West African roots with Inner-London hues"

Led by trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey, the group initially made a name for itself playing covers of artists the likes of Pat Thomas or Ebo Taylor, before eventually writing music of their own. "We love this music and want other people to love it the way we do," says percussionist Onome Ighamre. "We don't want this music to die."  In this vein, drawing on influences from West African Pentecostal churches, jazz and Western classical, Kokoroko's forthcoming, self-titled EP contains four tracks of stunning depth. 

"Uman" is the first track to be previewed. Opening with a pensive fanfare by the horn section, the track takes several turns and evolves into a "jubilant celebration of women, black women in particular," describes Maurice-Grey. "The track tackles the cultural trope of the 'black superwoman' and asks questions about why misrepresentations about black women exist. Ultimately, it's a redemptive track that makes space for both the unique struggles black women face, and their vulnerability." And we love it. You can listen to the track on Bandcamp or via the "Brownswood Basement Session" below. The "Kokoroko" EP releases March 8th, on Brownwood. They will also be performing live in Berlin for XJAZZ on May 9th. 

Kokoroko are:
Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet)
Cassie Kinoshi (saxophone)
Richie SeivWright (trombone)
Mutale Chashi (bass)
Oscar Jerome (guitar)
Yohan Kebede (keyboards)
Onome Ighamre (percussion)
Ayo Salawu (drums)

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom