Ever colourful and enigmatic, Collier says he has 'creative infinity syndrome'. Hear his music and you may agree...
Jacob Collier: A Playlist Sampler

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Ever colourful and enigmatic, Jacob Collier says he has ‘creative infinity syndrome’. Hear his music and you may agree. (Mogli Maureal photo)


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Collier with musical mentors and collaborators Quincy Jones (left) and Herbie Hancock. (Instagram photo)


The “musical prodigy” plays Vancouver on Sunday and will turn his audience into a choir

When veteran music writer Ted Gioia offers musical tips in his regular Honest Broker column they’re worth a look. His latest – A Dozen YouTube Videos I’m Enjoying Right Now – includes the same music video that introduced me to the hyperkinetic, genre-twisting and prodigious talent of Jacob Collier a few months ago. Little Blue is a sweet, gentle song from his latest album, Djesse Vol. 4. It features the 29 year-old Londoner singing in his pitch perfect, multi-octave voice playing acoustic guitar in an empty church surrounded by a small choir.

Starting off solo, Collier has made choirs and collaborations mainstays of his live performances. He launched his career from his room as a teenager more than a decade ago overdubbing multiple tracks on cover songs and posting them to YouTube. The lush harmonies with sharp, smart arrangements quickly drew a big audience. Veteran producer Quincy Jones, now 91, took note of the man the New York Times labels “The colorful Mozart of Gen Z” and offered his services as manager and mentor.

Collier has quickly morphed from a one-man show to a voracious performer who wants to play every kind of music with everyone available. Thus was born the 4-part Djesse series Collier’s been working on the last seven years, featuring many genres and more than 50 guest artists.

His fascination with the human voice prompted Collier to transform concert goers into “audience choirs”. He told CBC Radio Q host Tom Power in March that he’s “totally dazzled by the potential of what’s possible from a stage and with an audience and in collaboration.”

A prime example is 100,000 Voices, the opening track on the new disc. During his 2022 tour Collier recorded all of his audience choirs and mashed them into this supercharged and grandiose recording. If you haven’t heard Collier, it may take time to absorb the energy charging his recordings. It’s like a rollercoaster ride with abrupt changes between songs or even within them.

A six-time Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist with a superb ear, Collier’s stock is high composing, arranging and collaborating with some of music’s top players. The first minute of Joni Mitchell’s first ever Grammy appearance in February features Mitchell on stage singing Both Sides Now and Collier backing her on piano. Brandi Carlisle played beside Mitchell. She and Collier sing together on the Little Blue recording which appears on Djesse Vol. 4. Other notable musical partners include John Mayer, the late David Crosby, Shawn Mendes, Alicia Keyes, Oumou Sangaré, Chris Martin and Coldplay, Anoushka Shankar, Snarky Puppy, Lianne La Havas, Daniel Caesar and many more.

Collier’s music is hard to describe because it’s mostly unclassifiable. It traverses jazz, pop, orchestral classical, R&B, hip-hop and beyond. Despite huge audiences – 1.7 million Instagram followers, 1 million on YouTube – and sold out concerts around the world, he has yet to score a big radio hit. And despite a legion of devoted fans there are a number of wary critics too. A 2021 New York Times article described him as a “staggering musical prodigy with strangely mundane songs”.

A former fan speaks out

An online comment from former fan Michelle Coupland sums up the sentiment: “Jacob remains a frustrating enigma to me.  There can be no doubting his gifts, and he’s capable of great creativity and superb musicianship, but much of his output borders on the unlistenable.

If Jacob can find a way to filter his prodigious stream of ideas through an effective quality control mechanism, then maybe he will finally reach his undeniably stellar potential.”

So, did Ted Gioia get it wrong? Not at all. Little Blue is indeed a fine song and YouTube video. It shares just one facet of a very talented musician. Collier told the Guardian newspaper a year ago, “I have so many ideas that I call it ‘creative infinity syndrome’.” For the moment that’s an apt description – Collier has yet to corral all those big ideas into something coherent and more listenable. Just don’t tell his adoring fans. Stay tuned…


NOTE: Collier plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Sunday night. At the time of writing there were a handful of tickets still available.

Kurated is a music sharing project.
Kris Sig Plastic V3

13 April 2024


The selections skew towards the quieter and more reflective side of Collier’s work. A number of his tracks are lengthy and rather over the top. The tracklists are a bit different from each other. YouTube includes a few live performances unavailable on Spotify. The tracklist below is from the YouTube playlist.

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On YouTube


On Spotify