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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Joy Ellis Quartet @ Empty Shop, Durham - October 29.

Joy Ellis (keys, voice), James Kitchman (guitar), Henrik Jensen (bass), Adam Osmianski (drums).
(Review by Steve T) 
Another short un (hurrah). Definitely wanted to do this after Lance reviewed the album, which Ms. Ellis was thrilled by, and when I saw some of the musicians featured, not least Rob Luft and Binker.
My mission was to try to get to this and Hoochie’s SOSA, but a last minute decision to do them the other way round landed me in traffic gridlock due to the five hundred and ninety ninth month anniversary of the Freedom March.
This meant I got a little Sam Dees, a touch of Randy Brown and a slice of Betty Swann (and if these names mean anything to you at all you should be in the Empty Shop this Saturday) and the second half of Joy Ellis.
I was expecting a trio so a quartet was a happy surprise and not at all disappointing that the guitarist was not current whiz Rob Luft, but Hexham born/London based James Kitchman, who acquitted himself brilliantly.
The lady is amiable and classy on and off the stage (floor), clearly knows her way around a keyboard and it was refreshing to have a singer who isn't trying to emulate her black forebears. In fact, her music owes a lot to folk as well as Jazz and there's definite hints of prog rock in the juxtaposition of light and shade with Kitchman’s guitar effects.
The two more or less shared the soloing with an obvious rapport between them. He displays an acknowledged debt to James Birkett in his use of chords, and Mark Williams in his rock/pedals effects - two of his tutors back home.
Bass only took one solo in the second set and was all the better for that. I'd been warned to expect a serious level of musicianship, even without Luft, and they hadn't lied.
I believe the set was all original, though not all from the album and Ellis clearly knows how to write too, alternating vocal tracks and instrumentals, all with equal skill and aplomb.
Not a great turnout, bubbling around under twenty, but I guess four in the afternoon is a tricky spot.
Steve T. 

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