Kokoroko are an eight piece afrobeat band from London. Combining jazz improvisation with Afrobeat rhythms and glorious three-part harmonies, they create a rich, melodious, and vibrant sound. Their breakthrough came in 2018 with the song Abusey Junction, which has had almost 45 million YouTube views. Last year, they won Best Group at the Urban Music Awards.
The bass strikes you first – the rhythmic throaty thrum, and you can’t help but think that the EIF’s sound system at Edinburgh Park was built specially for these guys. We have a guitar (Oscar Jerome), bass guitar (Mutale Chashi), drums (Ayo Salawu), percussion (Onome Edgeworth), keys (Yohan Kebede) and a trumpet (Sheila Maurice-Grey) along with Cassie Kinoshi on saxophone and Richie Seivwright on trombone, with pretty much all of them also providing vocals. With all credit to the technical team, the sound quality is superb.
Aside from performing one cover of Fela Kuti’s ‘Colonial Mentality’, a syrupy elegant groove, the entire set is comprised of Kokoroko’s own, mostly mellow, compositions and a lot of them brand new. ‘Good Times’ is as full of promise as a mischief-making Saturday night out before the pandemic – though it wraps on a somewhat bittersweet note of yearning.
In true jazz style, each performer is given the spotlight in turn. Kebede at the keys creates a harmonious waterfall of sound. Jerome’s guitar offers a rich and funky howl to the moon. Kinoshi’s sax is sultry enough to satisfy Gerry Rafferty, and the brass harmonies are as sumptuous as hot toffee sauce.
Kokoroko have an infectious energy that shrinks the voluminous marquee. The audience are encouraged to sing, shout, and even dance as they celebrate the measured intricacy of the groove. The band serve up a tight set – 75 minutes just as billed – though the crowd would undoubtedly keep them far longer if they could