187

Yelena Eckemoff Quartet: Leaving Everything Behind

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist/composer Yelena Eckemoff has restlessly explored a new theme with each new album, with a shifting group of musicians. The central event behind the album title Leaving Everything Behind was her departure from the Soviet Union in 1991. She and her husband came to the United States to start a new life, having literally left everything behind—even their children, left indefinitely with Eckemoff's parents until the couple could get established. To explore this theme she returned to older original material, some dating as far back as the 1980s, some composed as recently as 2008 (an especially fruitful composing year).

Having trained as a classical pianist at the Moscow State Conservatory, Eckemoff's classical chops were finely honed. She became interested in jazz in her 20s, so even the oldest pieces here were born with jazz leanings. But Eckemoff considers 2010's Cold Sun her first true jazz album, making this music she describes as "music I composed when I knew very little—if anything at all—about the modern jazz field." Her jazz recordings have always had a strong through-composed element, giving them a classical chamber music foundation within an improvisational jazz setting. These pieces are the same, and indeed the listener is unlikely to notice their age. Instead they demonstrate a creative common thread present in Eckemoff's music for many years.

This quartet is well equipped for the challenge of revitalizing this older material. Violinist and improviser Mark Feldman (John Abercrombie, Uri Caine) is the lead voice, supported by bassist Ben Street (Danilo Pérez, David Virelles, Billy Hart Quartet), returning veteran drummer Billy Hart (appearing on his third Eckemoff recording), and of course the composer on piano. The opener "Prologue" sets the mood with a rubato feel, just piano and drums at first. "Rising From Within" continues with a dramatic motif, followed by a contrasting section that also provides the structure for the solos. "Love Train" is driven by Hart's vibrant groove, and he even takes a brief solo. The title tune has an especially striking Romantic theme, which Feldman makes the most of. Eckemoff recorded it by herself using piano with MIDI instruments on 2003's Piano Chronicles I. "Ocean of Pines" also had a prior recording, on 2006's The Call with the local ensemble Eckemoff led before she began working with international groupings.

In fact that band was the reason for the creation of these arrangements, as Eckemoff worked her old songs into trio, quartet, or quintet versions. For these sessions the improvisational element was further developed by the addition of structured improvisations, and in a few cases (e.g. "Coffee & Thunderstorm," "Spots of Light," "Love Train," and "Hope Lives Eternal") by inserting free group improvisation. Eckemoff describes her approach this way: "Traditionally, jazz is about extensive improvising on what might even be a simple tune...I provide a comprehensive, carefully thought-through musical framework...at the same time I leave much space in the framework for the creative reading by each band member." This band embraces both the compositional framework and the improvisational elements, producing a seamless, emotional result.

Track Listing: Prologue; Rising From Within; Mushroom Rain; Coffee & Thunderstorm; Sun Spots; Love Train; Leaving Everything Behind; Hope Lives Eternal; Tears of Tenderness; Ocean of Pines; A Date in Paradise.

Personnel: Yelena Eckemoff: piano; Mark Feldman: violin; Billy Hart: drums; Ben Street: double bass.

Title: Leaving Everything Behind | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: L & H Production

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

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

Radio
Album Reviews
Catching Up With
Album Reviews
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

Related Articles

Read Phalanx Ambassadors Album Reviews
Phalanx Ambassadors
By Troy Dostert
June 26, 2019
Read When Will The Blues Leave Album Reviews
When Will The Blues Leave
By John Ephland
June 26, 2019
Read Nothing Here Belongs Album Reviews
Nothing Here Belongs
By Jerome Wilson
June 26, 2019
Read Gods Of Apollo Album Reviews
Gods Of Apollo
By Roger Farbey
June 26, 2019
Read Migrations Album Reviews
Migrations
By Dan McClenaghan
June 25, 2019
Read Samba Azul Album Reviews
Samba Azul
By Mackenzie Horne
June 25, 2019
Read Blue Waltz - Live at Gustavs Album Reviews
Blue Waltz - Live at Gustavs
By Jakob Baekgaard
June 25, 2019