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Take Five With...

Take Five With Yelena Eckemoff

By Published: November 18, 2010
Music that makes sense; music that nurtures your soul and boosts your imagination; music that makes you a better person; music as a powerful language of God.

This is my approach to music I am striving to reach. For better or for worse, I do not play and compose, because I want to. I do it, because I can't not to. Making music to me is like the air I breathe. I have a feeling that I will live for as long as I can make music, and when I will no longer be capable of doing this, life will leave my body.

Your teaching approach: I've been teaching for a long time. And from my experience, I know that nearly everybody is capable to learn how to play up to a certain level—assuming that the teacher handles it right. The motivated student always does well for himself, no matter how far he will go. I try to push every student to the best of his/her ability, but it is most imperative for me that in any outcome my students would learn to appreciate good music in any style, form or expression. I teach my students the masterful skills, but most importantly—to understand and therefore to love music.

Your dream band:

Oh, don't get me started; I am getting really excited now! As a jazz composer, I absolutely need other musicians to complete my work. I can write marvelous melodies, skillfully develop them, make an intricate music structures, and even fix my spontaneous improvisations in notes. But when I get together with other sympathetic musicians, the magic happens, and my composition comes alive and sees the light as a baby having just being born. Ah, to be able to share the music making with the true masters—yes, that is my paradise on Earth! And I was able to reach this paradise three times in the year of 2010, when my music underwent metamorphoses of been processed through the work of such superb musicians as Mads Vinding
Mads Vinding
Mads Vinding
b.1948
bass
, Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
b.1954
drums
, Morten Lund, and Darek Oleszkiewicz. And I keep dreaming and making plans to play and record with the top musicians in the modern jazz world.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Ones, back in 2007, I played a concert with my band with a scratched cornea in one eye, while my other eye could not focus as well, and I did not see a single note. That was the worst experience, even though I ended up playing well, and the concert was not unsuccessful.

Favorite venue:

I have not performed at my favorite venue yet.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Typically, I am partial to my last recording. At this moment, this is my album, Flying Steps, which I've recorded with Darek Oleszkiewicz on double-bass and Peter Erskine on drums, last August in California, and which is due to release before the end of this year.

Actually, this is going to be my third release this year (unusual thing ever for me, because normally I produce an album per year,) and I am really fond of the other two, Cold Sun, with Mads Vinding on double-bass and Peter Erskine on drums, and Grass Catching the Wind, with Mads Vinding on double-bass and Morten Lund on drums.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Something by Lester Young
Lester Young
Lester Young
1909 - 1959
saxophone
Trio, and Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
' Kind of Blue.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I hope that I will leave my mark as a composer, because I think that the most valuable of my assets is my original music. By 'my music' I mean my written compositions which hopefully will survive throughout the times, even when the sound recordings the way we know them might become extinct. I hope that my compositions might be picked up by future generations of musicians in the same manner as classical music is performed and interpreted by the newer generations of musicians. The ways to perform constantly evolve and performers change, but music stays. Certainly, only the time will show if my music has this kind of quality or not.

Did you know...

I don't like surprises.

CDs you are listening to now: I rotate CDs in my 25-CD changer quite often, but I always try to keep at least one each of Bobo Stenson
Bobo Stenson
Bobo Stenson
b.1944
piano
, Arild Andersen
Arild Andersen
Arild Andersen
b.1945
bass, acoustic
, John Taylor
John Taylor
John Taylor
b.1942
piano
, Marcin Wasilewski, Manu Katche
Manu Katche
Manu Katche
b.1958
drums
, Jan Garbarek
Jan Garbarek
Jan Garbarek
b.1947
sax, tenor
, Tomasz Stanko
Tomasz Stanko
Tomasz Stanko
b.1942
trumpet
, Enrico Rava
Enrico Rava
Enrico Rava
b.1943
trumpet
, and Eberhard Weber
Eberhard Weber
Eberhard Weber
b.1940
bass
in there. I also must say that I try to listen to everything new that I can spot on the scene of improvisatory creative music and buy a lot of CDs, even though I end up not liking some of them after giving them a closer consideration. I also listen to a lot of classical music, but separately from jazz, and some of my favorite composers are J.S. Bach, F. Chopin, L. V. Beethoven, F. Schubert, R. Schumann, S. Rachmaninoff.


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