Trained in an intensive ten-year classical piano program at Moscow's Gnessins School, and after quietly making records for over two decades, Russian native Yelena Eckemoff has been transitioning to a form of hybrid, classically informed improvisation with some exceptional results. 2010's Cold Sun, a trio featuring the exquisite drumming of Peter Erskine, was a tremendous musical statement for a leader making an early foray into improvisation and a record that is well worth seeking out to this day. With A Touch of Radiance, Eckemoff is expanding beyond her well-honed trio format into a quintet featuring some of New ...read more
Pianist Yelena Eckemoff is refreshing. She has carved a niche for herself with an eye constantly trained to still newer paths. Once I finish a project, I'm already thinking of the next one," she says, during a phone interview. But let us linger on Glass Song, before being swept away again. The album offers a set of 10 originals that finds the Russian-born pianist/composer in the company of none other than bassist Arild Andersen and drummer Peter Erskine. Astonishingly, this session marks the first time the two sidemen have played together, despite their extensive ECM tenures.Yet if their ...read more
Pianist Yelena Eckemoff got a late start as a full-fledged jazz recording artist but she's making up for lost time. Eckemoff entered the artistic world as a young classical pianist in the Soviet Union, but she chose to put her work on hold for a spell while raising her children. Eventually, she returned to the piano with renewed creativity energy, but only after leaving her native land. In order to make the move, Eckemoff and her husband had to temporarily leave their three children behind, which was a difficult and gut wrenching decision, but all worked out in the end ...read more
Russian-born pianist Yelena Eckemoff comes from a diverse artistic background. Having studied both classical and jazz, she has performed in concert halls and with experimental jazz/rock ensembles. This versatility is on display on Forget-me-not, a disc comprised of ten original compositions with a unifying theme: a floating, dreamy atmosphere filled with cerebral and stimulating tone poems.Eckemoff weaves her different influences into her improvisations with seamless ease. The title track opens with inimitable percussionist Marilyn Mazur's sparse cymbals followed by her insistent drum beats that give way to Eckemoff's contemplative and jazzy piano and Mats Eilertsen's dissonant pizzicato bass. ...read more
A good rule of thumb when exploring new or unfamiliar jazz terrain is to look for either bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz or drummer Peter Erskine among the personnel. Finding both together leads to the very satisfying net results of Yelena Eckemoff 's Flying Steps, reuniting the Russian-born pianist with Erskine for their third collaboration. The addition of Oleszkiewicz is a windfall of almost indefinable value, the bassist contributing his experience and versatility as a sideman on more than eighty recordings, including work with pianists Brad Mehldau and Steve Kuhn. In truth, it is the presence ...read more
Meet Yelena Eckemoff: Brief Bio (150-200 words): Yelena Eckemoff was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. Her parents noticed that she had great musical potential when she started to play piano by ear at the age of four. Yelena's mother, Olga, a professional pianist, became her first piano teacher. At the age of seven Yelena was accepted into an elite Gnessins 10-year School for musically gifted children where, in addition to common school subjects, she received extensive training in piano, music theory, music literature, solfeggio, harmony, analysis of musical forms, conducting, composing, and other musical subjects. She ...read more
Cold Sun could readily be considered as a concept album, if that term hadn't been so abused over the years. Pianist Yelena Eckemoff has taken her inspiration for these ten original tunes from the winter season--perhaps in her native Russia, perhaps from her adopted homeland of North Carolina--and conjures up many different images of winter in her sparse and delicate trio arrangements. The starkly beautiful photographs on the CD cover give a clear indication of the music within, while the crystal clear production--sound engineer Rich Breen deserves a name check for this--means that each instrument comes across perfectly.read more
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