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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Joy Ellis Quartet @ The Jazz Café - May12

Joy Ellis (piano & vocals), James Kitchman (guitar), Henrik Jensen (double bass) & Adam Osmianski (drums)
(Review by Russell/Photos courtesy of Mike Tilley)
This Newcastle Jazz Café date previewing her forthcoming CD Life on Land was a first opportunity for a Tyneside jazz audience to hear singer-songwriter pianist Joy Ellis. The London-based Ellis is fortunate in being able to work with many of the best musicians on the scene. Three of them made the journey north to perform two sets of Ellis’ compositions, some of which feature on her new CD, some yet to have a title. A select gathering on Pink Lane thoroughly enjoyed listening to Ellis and her band – James Kitchman, guitar, Henrik Jensen, double bass, and drummer Adam Osmianski.

Joy Ellis’ soon-to-be-released new album is, in part, inspired by her observations of life in London. Ellis the vocalist sings with an innate sense of optimism, her lyrics a framework from which she and her band mates, particularly Kitchman, improvise. A composition with no name temporarily labelled Something was one of two or three in embryonic form. Others – The Jazz Man, the timely Refugee performed as a trio (minus Kitchman), Here in the Quiet, From Dusk Til Dawn – were accomplished pieces with the quartet fully engaged, frequently exchanging smiles, things were going well.

Drummer Adam Osmianski, a new face on Tyneside, works in the Latin jazz field and his energetic performance enthused band mates and audience alike. Bassist Henrik Jensen, a bandleader in his own right, is a commanding figure and on this gig played the unobtrusive anchor role. The Dane is no stranger to the Jazz Café having played a memorable gig with his band Followed by Thirteen in February 2014. Guitarist James Kitchman bagged the majority of the solos. An unassuming young man, Kitchman crafted several excellent solos which were clearly to the liking of Ellis. Kitchman is another north east success story. Hailing from the Tyne valley, the then mid-teens guitarist walked into the Chillingham Arms one Wednesday evening hoping to sit-in at Dave Weisser’s long-running jazz workshop. The rest – bright lights, big city – is, as they say, history.

The Joy Ellis Quartet will launch her new album – Life on Land – at the Dean Street Pizza Express in London on Sunday 5 November. It’s a lunchtime session (1:30pm). A London ‘away day’ sounds like a good idea.           
Russell.

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