When music transcends the notes, it connects our inner and our outer lives, and takes us to another place. It’s a place you’ll want to inhabit for a while, and Not This Room will get you there. These nine songs combine the unique melodic artistry of composer and guitarist Roddy Ellias with unforgettable lyrics by Canadian writer Sandra Nicholls. Sung by Juno award- winning vocalist Kellyee Evans, with the help of eight other musicians, the songs are a stirring testament to the power of creativity in the face of isolation, a musical light from the darkest days of the pandemic, a jazz-infused message of hope.
Ellias is a composer whose work defies a simple definition, and his musical journey has taken him from his early roots in pop and R&B bands, to the improvised world of jazz, through African and other world beats all the way to the classical world, even writing an opera, and everything in between. The songs on this latest album move seamlessly through different moods and styles, echoing the shifting experience of the pandemic itself. From the simple folky power of Prayer to the hypnotic beat of The Street, from the haunting, melancholy lyricism of the title track, Not This Room, to the luminous harmonies of Draw Me a Circle, the songs on this album linger on long after you first hear them.
This is not his first collaboration with Nicholls, an award-winning poet and novelist, but they consider it their most important, with songs they hope will connect people in a time of profound disconnection. In addition to Ellias and Evans, the album features New York pianist Marc Copland, Juno-winner Petr Cancura (saxophones and mandolin), Richard Page (bass clarinet), Pierre-Yves Martel (viola de gamba), Guy Pelletier (flutes), Justin Orok (nylon string guitar), Chris Pond (bass) and Jose Garcia (percussion). It was recorded in the beautiful ambient setting of Mackay United Church in Ottawa.
Guitarist, composer, performer, improviser — Roddy Ellias draws from so many musical influences his work defies labels. As each piece unfolds it tells its own unique story — eclectic, intense, rhythmic, powerful, and ultimately human.