All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Catching Up With

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...

344

Yelena Eckemoff: Growing Into Jazz

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
...my approach to the bigger group of instruments is the same as to a trio. I care the same that all the instruments would have an equal chance to come through with an interesting story to tell.
Pianist/composer Yelena Eckemoff goes her own way. Since the 2010 release of Cold Sun on her own L&H Production label, she has produced a series of jazz recordings, all presenting original music, with an impressive array of renowned contemporary musicians. Our conversation mainly dealt with her recording career: making connections with other musicians, composing, and working in the studio as performer and producer.

All About Jazz: When All About Jazz ran a Take Five article on you back in 2010, your current album was Flying Steps. You have made several since then. And one of the things I wanted to ask you about: on the current record and a couple others, you have the great Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen playing with you. I was wondering how that connection was made.

Yelena Eckemoff: To answer this question I probably need to tell a bit of my back story.

When we came to live in America, MIDI technology was blooming, and I could not pass up the opportunity to give it a try and assembled myself a cool set-up with a Kurzweil K-2000, PC-88, etc. For over ten years I experimented with sequencing and working solo. I even started to release CDs both in acoustic piano and in electronic music. Then I felt that I truly missed the interaction with other musicians. So I enlisted a drummer, cellist, and flutist here in North Carolina, and we recorded Call in 2006. Then we got a bassist and a reed player, and I continued rehearsing and playing gigs with this ensemble. But yet something was missing. I had good and dedicated musicians, but they did not specifically come from the world of jazz, and I felt I needed help to go in that direction. Around the same time I also started to listen to CDs released by the ECM label. Strangely, I never heard about ECM before. I saw that the ECM approach was much closer than any other music I've ever heard to what I myself was doing throughout my entire life. I remember, I could truly relate to Bobo Stenson, Arild Andersen, Tomasz Stanko, John Abercrombie, Annette Peacock, and John Taylor.

So I bravely approached Arild Andersen via email, offering him to work together—I think it was in 2008. He kindly asked me to send him some music. I did. He listened and said it was nice, but too complicated (laughs). He said he was too busy recording and touring, thus he declined at that point. But interestingly we stayed in touch. So an idea of us working together did not die out.

In the following couple of years I worked with some great musicians: bassists Mads Vinding, Darek Oleszkiewicz, and Mats Eilertsen, and drummers Peter Erskine, Morten Lund, and Marilyn Mazur. I released three trio CDs in 2010 (my personal record!) and one in 2012. I felt I was evolving rapidly—as I still am—and I was getting deeper and deeper into jazz as a genre. Some of material I had composed at that time was right in the same vein Arild was working in. So I offered him that material. He liked it so we recorded Glass Song in 2012 in L.A., with Peter Erskine.

AAJ: Looking over your discography, you've done a lot of trio recordings, but there have been a couple with a slightly larger group, including the current one, Everblue. How different is the approach when you've got additional horns or other instruments beyond the trio?

YE: I had from four to six people in my local band. But when I started to work with world-class jazz musicians I intentionally limited myself to trio. I felt it was a simpler and—honestly—safer approach for me at that time, since I was still growing into jazz. I was very much intrigued with the expressive possibilities of the trio, because of the transparency and intimacy of the setting. Trio was a learning ground for me to experience the interplay and conversation between the instruments, rather than playing a leader with a support section. I learned to write musical arrangements in such a manner that each instrument would be an equal part of a bigger whole without dominating over others.

For a while I felt the trio was a sufficient format for me. Then, after recording five trio CDs, I felt I was ready for a bigger sound. Later the same year after Glass Song I recorded a quartet with flugelhorn in Denmark. Then in 2013, a few months after recording another trio with Arild (the double album Lions), I recorded a quintet with vibraphone and trumpet in Finland; but these two albums (along with another trio with Mads Vinding) have not been released yet.

So, summarizing an answer to your question, I should say that my approach to the bigger group of instruments is the same as to a trio. I care the same that all the instruments would have an equal chance to come through with an interesting story to tell.

Officially my first released quintet is A Touch of Radiance (2014) and first released quartet is Everblue (2015). And I continue to work in quartet settings. I have just recorded another quartet in September of this year and I am recording yet another quartet in December. I guess no more trios on the horizon (laughs).

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
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
Leaving Everything Behind

Leaving Everything...

L & H Production
2016

buy

Related Articles

Read Gordon Au: Untraditionally Mad About Trad Catching Up With
Gordon Au: Untraditionally Mad About Trad
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Michael Feinstein: Errands and Rhythm Galore Catching Up With
Michael Feinstein: Errands and Rhythm Galore
by Rob Wood
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Zach Brock: Jazz Violin's New Wave Catching Up With
Zach Brock: Jazz Violin's New Wave
by Angelo Leonardi
Published: September 12, 2018
Read Linda May Han Oh: Talent and Dedication Catching Up With
Linda May Han Oh: Talent and Dedication
by Angelo Leonardi
Published: September 11, 2018
Read Harold Lopez-Nussa: from Havana to Indianapolis Catching Up With
Harold Lopez-Nussa: from Havana to Indianapolis
by Fernando Rodriguez
Published: September 2, 2018
Read Stu Mindeman and trio explore a Chick Corea classic at the Chicago Jazz Festival Catching Up With
Stu Mindeman and trio explore a Chick Corea classic at the...
by Corey Hall
Published: August 21, 2018
Read "Ramon Valle: The Amsterdam transplant remains rooted in Cuba" Catching Up With Ramon Valle: The Amsterdam transplant remains rooted in Cuba
by Joan Gannij
Published: October 3, 2017
Read "Gordon Au: Untraditionally Mad About Trad" Catching Up With Gordon Au: Untraditionally Mad About Trad
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: September 21, 2018
Read "Harold Lopez-Nussa: from Havana to Indianapolis" Catching Up With Harold Lopez-Nussa: from Havana to Indianapolis
by Fernando Rodriguez
Published: September 2, 2018
Read "Gunhild Carling: Sweden's Incredible Talent" Catching Up With Gunhild Carling: Sweden's Incredible Talent
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: November 25, 2017
Read "Lucky Bamba: From Noflag to Solo Career" Catching Up With Lucky Bamba: From Noflag to Solo Career
by Jim Olin
Published: January 28, 2018
Read "Tiffany Austin: Unbroken" Catching Up With Tiffany Austin: Unbroken
by Walter Atkins
Published: June 8, 2018