Joy Ellis: Dwell


After recording her debut album in 2017, Life On Land, London-based pianist Joy Ellis has released her second, with the same line-up as the first. Featuring ten absorbing original compositions on her own label, Oti-O Records, Dwell comprises a variety of jazz, soul and groove tunes complemented by Ellis’s expansive vocal style.

Since graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Ellis has pursued a career in touring and composing. Recent highlights include Ronnie Scott’s, the Jazz Café as well as No Black Tie Jazz Club in Kuala Lumpur. Ellis is also a regular face with the Samba Azul group, performing the sounds of Brazil.

The opening track, Daffodils, begins with these intriguing sounds performed on sound bowls by Helen Burnett. This unique, gentle tone provides a soft musical palette where further sonorities and textures are explored.

Other highlights for me include Mick Coady Says Hello, a piece that signifies determination with its purely instrumental groove maintaining sophisticated, tight transition periods within the beat. Frequent changes in metre and rhythm create an impressive platform for diverse improvising across the group.

Family Tree, another favourite and also recommended by Ellis herself, is driven by a unified rhythm between guitar and bass which develops into a hip groove. This gives Ellis space to open up on the Fender Rhodes before Luft has a blues-inflected solo, washed with various guitar pedals.

The wide range of styles on this album is particularly pleasing. Ellis is moving in the right direction with her music and poetic lyrics and contributing brilliantly to a growing corpus of contemporary female jazz.

Dwell is available from Birnam (CD), AmazonBandcamp or Spotify. Find out about Joy Ellis’s other projects on her website

Daffodils; Pollyanna; Family Tree; Castles; Dwell; One Minute in Manchester; Boy; Mick Coady Says Hello; Ice on the River; Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (54.08)
Ellis (p, Rhodes, v); Rob Luft (g); Henrik Jensen (b); Ferg Ireland (elb); Adam Osmianski (d); Helen Burnett (sound bowls, tk 1). London, November 2019.
Oti-O Records OTI-OCD002