For many it would never happen - but this year it did when a jazz act won the Mercury for the first time in the history of the prize with Ezra Collective winning for Where I'm Meant To Be at a ceremony in London earlier this evening. Ezra Collective once again reach parts of a wider non-jazz consciousness that few UK jazz acts can dream of. The London band borne out of Tomorrow's Warriors are led by drummer Femi Koleoso with TJ Koleoso on bass, Joe Armon-Jones on keys, Ife Ogunjobi on trumpet and James Mollison on tenor saxophone.
Influenced by grime, hip-hop, Afrobeat, jazz and more they interpreted Wayne Shorter Adam's Apple classic 'Footprints' on 2020's best-selling various artists compilation album, Blue Note Re:imagined. Featured guests on Where I'm Meant To Be, included Emeli Sandé on 'Siesta' the track begun by the expectant din of people's voices and Sandé sounding soulful with Armon-Jones on keys busy and circling in with percussion to keep the pace up. Rapper Sampa the Great, Kojey Radical in conversation a little with the late Tony Allen on the thumping Afrobeat livener 'No Confusion' riffing off Gil Scott-Heron lyrically also feature. Words from the great film and tv director Steve McQueen are at the radical heart of the album who talks about black music ''breaking through'' and ''within the unrecognisable there is the familar.'' The band take home a prize of £25,000 Koleoso picking up the prize pondering ''if a jazz band winning the Mercury Prize doesn't make you believe in God, I don't know what will.''