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Take Five With...

Take Five With Yelena Eckemoff

By Published: November 18, 2010
Desert Island picks: Since in my books that would definitely be more than five, and likely even more than fifty, I do not find possible to answer this question adequately. But if the question would be rephrased to something like: "Which five albums come to mind without much thinking if you are asked to name fist five?" then my list would look something like this:

Arild Andersen, Triangle (ECM);
Bobo Stenson, Cantando (ECM);
Peter Erskine, Juni (ECM);
Marcin Wasilewski Trio, January (ECM);
Stefano Bollani, Stone in the Water (ECM).

How would you describe the state of jazz today? All art suffers nowadays from the computer revolution. Nevertheless performing arts are still quite alive, even though they are not flourishing in the US as much as in Europe. It is hard to say why; maybe musicians here are not paid enough for the gigs...

Therefore it is encouraging that traditional jazz still stands its grounds and attracts many musicians to be its dedicated followers. I myself have made my first steps in jazz playing the standards and evergreens. At the same time, I am delighted to witness that jazz took turn and is developing into something else. These days you cannot tally all that new sprouting directions into the jazz idiom. You have to clarify either this is traditional, or straightforward jazz, or modern-free-avant- garde jazz. Many just say—improvising music, the merge, or cross-breed. I like that. I am for the innovative ways for a jazz musician to communicate the creativity and free spirit. Melting jazz into diverse body of classical music or vise-versa; wow, what a mind-blowing potential here!

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Exposure and education are the only ways to keep something alive and growing. Sadly, jazz, especially the modern jazz, does not get almost any space on radio, TV, etc, verses pop music. The same picture, by the way, is with classical music channels: there are just outnumbered by the others. This is a shame, because for people like me and likewise, there is often nothing to listen to on radio. Not mentioning that the trip to the grocery store, doctor's office or anywhere where music is forced on you, could be a living hell. I wish there would be more powerful people somewhere out there who would give jazz a fair chance to be heard.

What is in the near future? I plan to have two recording sessions in 2011; one of them in Europe, and to produce at least two new albums. The players have not been settled yet, although I have pretty good idea.

By Day:

Private piano teacher; choir director, pianist and organist at church.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: Visual artist (oil-on-canvas painter).

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