CD review

Joy Ellis – Dwell

Joy Ellis – Dwell
(Otio CD002. CD review by Frank Griffith)

Pianist, singer and composer Joy Ellis‘ second release, Dwell, is now out on the Otio label. Since graduating from the Guildhall she has travelled the world peforming jazz. She had a spell working on ships, the reason she called her first album Life on Land (INTERVIEW), and since then has appeared at Ronnie Scott’s, The Jazz Cafe, the London and Cork Jazz festivals, and as far away as the No Tie Jazz Club in Kuala Lumpur. In 2017, she was also selected as one of the 14 emerging artists to work with Mercury Prize-nominated singer, ESKA, on a composition residency in Manchester.

Ellis’ core rhythm section of Henrik Jensen or Ferg Ireland on bass, Adam Ozmianski on drums and Rob Luft on guitar is supplemented on one track, Daffodils, by Helen Burnett on sound bowls – the kind of ambient sound, one might say, to bowl the listener over.

Dwell reflects her passion for jazz and improvisation as well as her love of groove and dance music while also displaying her prodigious classically-trained piano skills as soloist and accompanist, along with her soulful and poetic singer/songwriter sensibilities. Her cool, poetic meditations over a suitably restless jazz soundscape create a highly original product that is all her own. There is a palpable chemistry between Joy and her bandmates that, while being balanced and measured, still allows them some unshackled freedom. The solos are joyous and free, yet nothing unduly clever or overcooked.

The whole of Dwell is nicely tied together by a distinctive sound which fully explores traditional jazz harmonies along with somewhat off-kilter rhythmic grooves. The pleasing variety of styles balances the powerful and rhythmic and the more reflective and calm textures. There are two instrumental tracks that shine as well: Mick Coady Says Hello and Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. These unleash the capable soloing abilities of Luft and Ellis to great measure.

A great second release from an exquisitely talented performer and composer.

Frank Griffith is saxophonist and composer/arranger based in Liverpool. He will be performing with vocalist, Tina May, on 8 February 2020 at the Southport Jazz Festival.

LINK: Joy Ellis’s website

Categories: CD review

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