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A London-based octet led by trumpeter/composer Sheila Maurice-Grey, Kokoroko's sound straddles contemporary jazz-funk, Afrobeat, spiritual soul, and West African highlife. Arriving as youngsters on the London scene, they offered a kinetic, polyrhythmic live sound that offered spirited interplay between soulful horns, rumbling percussion, chunky guitars, thrumming basses, jagged keyboards, and chorus vocals. Gilles Peterson showcased their "Abusey Junction" as the closing track on his game-changing London scene overview We Out Here in 2018, and it went viral across the internet. Their reputation spread due to their explosive, edifying live shows. The cut was also included on their eponymous, widely acclaimed four-track debut EP the following year. A pair of singles -- "Carry Me Home" and "Baba Ayoola" -- appeared in 2020. Could We Be More, their debut long-player, arrived in August 2022 on Brownswood. The group delivered Could We Be More Remixes in 2023. The group was founded by trumpeter/composer Sheila Maurice-Grey in 2014 after she attended a music workshop in Kenya. She assembled a host of London jazz school kids, enlisting saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi (also in Nerija and SEED Ensemble), along with trombonist Richie Seivright, bassist Mutale Chashi, guitarist Oscar Jerome, percussionist Onome Edgeworth, keyboardist Yohan Kebede, and drummer Ayo Salawu. They began writing together and after working gigs in small clubs for a year, they graduated to the festival circuit. Kokoroko contributed the track "Abusey Junction" to the award-winning Brownswood compilation We Out Here, a showcase of London's new jazz, funk, and global grooves in February of 2018. Their jam proved a standout. The cut was selected as Track of the Year at the 2019 Worldwide Awards and appeared on the band's self-titled debut EP for Brownswood in March. The group worked constantly across England and elsewhere in Europe that summer, with guitarist Tobi Adenaike-Johnson and bassist Duane Atherley replacing Chashi and Jerome. They cut the single "Carry Me Home / Baba Ayoola" for Brownswood in 2020, and it won global airplay and glowing critical notice. They won "best group" at the Urban Music Awards 2020, and also at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2021. In the U.S., Kokoroko made the NPR Austin 100 list, with only seven issued tracks. The band kicked off 2022 with the anthemic weave of highlife and soul-jazz on the single "Something's Going On," a spiritual answer to Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." "We Give Thanks" appeared in March and was followed by the soulful, "Age of Ascent" in June. All three tracks appeared on Kokoroko's 15-track debut long-player Could We Be More that August. Kokoroko was touring the U.K. when the set was released. They shared the headline stage at that year's We Out Here Festival alongside Azymuth, Pharoah Sanders, and the Comet Is Coming before touring France and the Netherlands. Could We Be More Remixes was issued in 2023, featuring reworkings by KeiyaA, Ash Lauryn, Stefan Ringer, and dreamcastmoe.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo


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