In early 2018, Gilles Peterson's Brownswood record label released a compilation of contemporary London jazz bands We Out Here. The selection is clearly dominated by the poetic song "Abusey Junction" by until then a relatively unknown band Kokoroko. It immediately skyrocketed and now it has 34 million views on YouTube. Earlier this year, they released an eponymous EP which was also brought to attention by The Guardian. Another name of Pohoda 2021 is a real gem of the afrobeat genre – the London all-star band Kokoroko.
The name of the band means “to be strong” in the language of the Nigerian tribe Orobo. Kokoroko is a group of excellent musicians coming from the London jazz community, and is headed by trumpeter Maurice Gray. The band also includes saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, trombone player Richie Seivwright, guitarist Oscar Jerome, keyboardist Yohan Kebede, drummer Ayo Salawu, and percussionist Onome Edgeworth. The band reflect the rich history hidden in the genome of their musical role models and roots, both in topics and performances. However, it’s not just a musical tribute to artists such as Fela Kuti or Tony Allen, it is an effort to bring a new conception of afrobeat accessible to the present generation. Kokoroko mix West African gospel music, jazz, classical music and the sounds of London's nightlife. In addition to their love for music, what drives them forward is an effort to prevent the gradual dying out of afrobeat “highlife” parties. Rhythm plays a dominant role in their performance, both in solos and improvisations. They don’t try to make their songs sound perfectly smooth, but rather as music at real parties with all the dirt and energy that goes with it.