Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

309

Yelena Eckemoff: A Touch of Radiance

Tyran Grillo By

Sign in to view read count
It's fulfilling to hear an artist evolve. In this regard, Yelena Eckemoff has heeded callings definable only by the language of the spirit. The Russian-born pianist and composer comes from a rigorous classical background, and within those parameters has shaped a quiet yet assured corpus of jazz albums stretching back to 2006's The Call. Since then she has assembled numerous ad hoc bands, caressing ebonies and ivories alongside Arild Andersen, Marilyn Mazur, Peter Erskine, and many other established names in the field. On A Touch of Radiance she finds herself in the supernal company of tenorist Mark Turner, vibraphonist Joe Locke, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Billy Hart. As the self-styled Yelena Eckemoff Quintet, they forge an astonishingly delicate soundscape.

Recorded at New York's legendary Avatar Studios and averaging seven minutes each, the album's ten originals show Eckemoff to be a democratic catalyst. Her atmospheres possess integrity, not least of all for their intimation. As such, titles like "Reminiscence" and "Exuberance" are no mere descriptors, but reflections of more complex emotional states. (True to form, Eckemoff provides a poem in the CD booklet for each respective track.) "Affection," for one, is not as dulcet as one might expect, but ruminates in shadows, chromatic dissonances, and treats memory not as a canvas but as underdeveloped film. Turner brings a river's flow to this unusual tune, contrasting with Locke's brighter energies. "Pep," for another, sparks even more idiosyncratic flames. These flicker through Eckemoff's playing, which here achieves gnarled brilliance. Turner emotes in striations, not pillars, and again shares lovely crosstalk with Locke's mallets.

None of which is to say there aren't any overtly programmatic moments. Tracks such as "Reminiscence," "Exuberance," and "Radiance" are exactly what they purport to be. The first of these is notable for Hart's pastel monologue, the second for Mraz's foundry, and the third for Eckemoff's raindrop pianism, sparkling and free. And all of them are shuttled through a loom of childhood memory and innocent wanderings through pastures to which one becomes blind in adulthood.

Other tunes float somewhere in between, achieving deepest insight in the album's zenith, "Reconciliation." Not only is it Eckemoff's finest studio achievement, but its dovetailing of melody, mood, and magic draws her collaborators into some inspired being. Turner in particular gives the breadth of his abilities to small worlds through effortless unpacking, making of them universes unto themselves.

Of the bandleader's own playing we are treated to tasteful selections in the set's most somber turns. In the melting snow of "Imagination" and more impressionistic "Tranquility," her touch remains gentle and unobtrusive, forever invested in the beauty of the everyday. As in the album's opener, "Inspiration," she finds greatest happiness in exactly that.

Whether occupying foreground or background, she is the gentle adhesive that sticks every finished photo into the emerging diary. For that's exactly what this album feels like: a familiar volume to the clasp of which each musician adds ornament, able to be unlocked only by a listener's curiosity.

Track Listing: Inspiration; Reminiscence; Exuberance; Affection; Pep; Imagination; Reconciliation; Tranquility; Encouragement; Radiance.

Personnel: Yelena Eckemoff, piano; Mark Turner, tenor saxophone; Joe Locke, vibraphone; George Mraz, bass; Billy Hart, drums.

Title: A Touch of Radiance | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Catching Up With
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Read more articles
Colors

Colors

L&H Production
2019

buy
Desert

Desert

L & H Production
2018

buy
Better Than Gold and Silver

Better Than Gold and...

L&H Production
2018

buy
Blooming Tall Phlox

Blooming Tall Phlox

L & H Production
2017

buy
Blooming Tall Phlox

Blooming Tall Phlox

L & H Production
2017

buy
In The Shadow Of A Cloud

In The Shadow Of A...

L & H Production
2017

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Feb27Wed
Yelena Eckemoff
Bop Stop
Cleveland, OH
$15
Apr25Thu
Yelena Eckemoff
Kito Vegesack
Bremen, Germany
€18.00

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read New American Songbooks, Volume 2 Album Reviews
New American Songbooks, Volume 2
By Karl Ackermann
February 19, 2019
Read Live At JazzCase Album Reviews
Live At JazzCase
By Troy Dostert
February 19, 2019
Read Eastern Sonata Album Reviews
Eastern Sonata
By James Fleming
February 19, 2019
Read Cannonball Album Reviews
Cannonball
By Rob Rosenblum
February 19, 2019
Read Child Of Illusion Album Reviews
Child Of Illusion
By Don Phipps
February 19, 2019
Read Infection In The Sentence Album Reviews
Infection In The Sentence
By Chris May
February 18, 2019
Read Real Isn't Real Album Reviews
Real Isn't Real
By Phil Barnes
February 18, 2019