Yelena is a lovely and supremely talented pianist and composer, who writes a kind of hybrid jazz and classical music that’s impossible to pigeonhole and impossible to ignore…Seek her out if multi-layered harmonically and melodically rich yet spacious and recognisably northern European piano music is your thing.
Here you are treated with music of more abstract character, but the sound of the group does not flake and remains faithful to the aesthetic choice. The collective works pretty well, as if they had been together forever, and this is another of the talents of this pianist, that is to write and drive the band with authority. ..The Russian pianist has always something new to say, and from one album to the next her musical ideas are constantly evolving, which also benefits the contemporary jazz scene.
Yelena Eckemoff is clearly on the same wavelength with her partners, and creates music compositions that let the other musician express themselves very naturally: slow tempo of the music is perfect for the long notes, spaces that open up and offer to Andersen numerous chances to make the strings of his double bass sound wonderfull. To all of this Eckemoff adds a coherent piano approach, dissonant but very melodic, a bit classical, delicate to the touch and rich in light persistent expressiveness.
Two aquatically themed tracks are, in fact, among Eckemoff’s best, “Waves & Shells” boasting evocative dialogue between her and Brunborg and showing the pianist in her element. “Skyline” is just as painterly, Eckemoff and Brunborg again sounding beautifully off each other over the rhythm section’s tectonic support. This time the leader’s soloing is more thoughtful and confident, blending organically into Andersen’s own. Eckemoff shines when the lights are low, as in the tenderer glow of “Blue Lamp” and “Abyss.”..Andersen and Christensen bring especial wonders to bear on “All Things, Seen and Unseen,” over which Eckemoff’s pianism skirts genre lines, brushing sparkle into the robust currents of her bandmates.
. For me, in every case, each performs at the top of their form – and that is saying something! I have never heard any of these musicians sound any better than they do here. They seem to play as one, regardless of how complex the composition and/or improvisation is. Thus, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the listening pleasure is to hear the constant beautiful and seamless interaction between the four of them.
When is an ECM album not an ECM album? New release from Yelena Eckemoff provide compelling answer. On Everblue, Eckemoff’s studio perfectionism fully embraces the elemental instincts of her Norwegian sidemen. The result? A lovingly detailed soundscape and an audiophile’s delight—and a Rainbow Studio production worthy of the august German label it wasn’t issued on! ..Eckemoff’s Everblue is endlessly enjoyable. I urge you to lend this album your ears.
Until now we were not familiar with Russian jazz pianist Yelena Eckemoff. She has an excellent reputation and already worked on her previous albums with musicians such as Billy Hart, Mark Turner, Peter Erskine and Marilyn Mazur. This time she has purely Scandinavian team at her side. ..Everblue seems like a day at the sea, when the “Sea-Breeze” blows through “Waves and Shells”, and toward the end of the album “Ghost of the Dunes” touches on something transcendent and mysterious.
As a jazz pianist and composer, Eckemoff retains a classical sensibility in her precise touch and in her systematic, refined, orderly forms. She writes minimalist études of romantic impressionism. The badasses she brings in to help her play them thrive in her measured yet open environments. Six of her releases to date are piano-trio recordings. Those with bassist Arild Andersen contain some of the most powerful, poetic work of his long career. ..For an album so pretty, Everblue is deep.
The musical compass points straight to the North and into the time that Keith Jarrett conducted his Scandinavian tour and Jan Gabarek earned his iconic status in music with his melancholic saxophone lines. The quartet of the Russian pianist Yelena Eckemoff follows the this musical path with great perfection. Andersen lets his bass indulge itself in warm tones, Christensen delicately brushes the cymbals, Brunborg blows dreamy melodies and Eckemoff throws in notes in between that perfectly add in to this atmosphere of sophisticated interactions. And it gets interesting when Eckemoff departs from her celebrated band members and breaks out into beautiful tones with refined harmonies.
Eckemoff’s music blurs the line between melody and improvisation, and between individual solos and ensemble interplay. The music sets an introspective atmosphere rather than introducing catchy themes and passionate individual heroics. None of the individual pieces stand out by themselves, instead serving as a type of suite that segues easily from one performance to the next. The music’s passion bubbles beneath the surface.
This album is a longing trip into the center of poetry. Restrained, determinedly interpreted with the distinct feeling for wide reaching impressive sound arches and melodic melancholies. Yelena Eckemoff leads from the piano with an impressionistic baton. She adds light and fleeting harmonies into the sound picture and makes them into bewildering and beautiful day dreams.
This is music that emanates subtle magic, going directly to the heart sensitive to the beauty of the sound recipient, full of spontaneity and yet truly mesmerizing. In each of the ten songs we are dealing with an extremely democratic approach to the musical material. Lots of individual instruments in stunning style complement each other, often resulting logical one from the other.
Yelena Eckemoff spotlights her gentle and gracious touch as she leads a team of “Arild Anderson/b, Jon Christensen/dr and Tore Brunborg/ts through a collection of subtle originals. ..The entire album is filled with serenading moods, akin to an audio sun set. Endearing.
Eckemoff writes extremely lyrical melodies, and interaction with Brunborg, Andersen and Christensen is the optimum for her music. ..The disc was recorded in Rainbow Studio in Oslo with magician Jan Erik Kongshaug at the controls. And when we know that the mood and sound being the best. “EverBlue” has become a beautiful recording, which should open up a number of gigs for Yelena Eckemoff in Scandinavia and Europe, for this is music that the European audience loves.
While what I’ve said, every feeling that I’ve listed, it is all the result of the sidemen having the pleasure of reading Yelena’s compositions. They also have their well deserved times where they come forth and shine, but the strength and lineage of each number comes from Yelena’s pen and piano. Her playing on this album in exemplary, showing intricacy and detail. Her melodies are spot on, as we have come to look forward to from her. In short, this is a top-notch effort by one of the very best in the biz. And to experience in it’s full glory, don’t just stream and listen to it – buy the hi-rez downloads or the hard media and live it.
From the opening notes on Eckemoff’s CD, “Everblue” it is abundantly clear that the Russian pianist has a sensitive touch and a rich appreciation of color. She pulls deep dark colors out of the keyboard in the unaccompanied introduction to the title track, and she expertly controls the dynamics with the entrance of her quartet. ..There is a great deal of interactivity in this music, and Eckemoff leads the quartet with subtle grace from the keyboard. ..Reflecting the rich tone of Eckemoff’s piano, the other members obtain distinctive and full sounds from their instruments: Brunborg alternately searing and singing on soprano and tenor, Andersen’s busy but deep bass sound and Christensen’s delicate cymbals and thundering tom-toms. The individual compositions meld into each other especially well, and that makes “Everblue” an album that should be listened to as a complete entity rather than a collection of separate tracks.
Here, with “Everblue,” categories (of jazz or classical, of improvised vs. composed) no longer pertain. All that matters is the being moved; which you, as open-eared listener, will no doubt be by this Yelena Eckemoff/Arild Andersen-penned suite of ocean/sky-themed compositions. ..Do just that right now: sit back, savor each composition, and indeed the inseparable whole of all these thematically linked pieces, and anticipate good things. Yelena Eckemoff most definitely delivers!
Working with the Norwegian dream team of saxophonist Tore Brunborg, acoustic bassist Arild Andersen and drummer Jon Christensen, Eckemoff’s interactive conversation with her band informs a scenario that encompasses the ocean and nature (animals, birds, winds and ghosts). Her poetry graces the CD booklet with a poem for each piece of this land- and sea-scape, a friendly environment where “our consciousness constantly searches and yearns for the divine, unspeakably beautiful eternal.” She calls it Everblue. Pockets of energy are compacted within the mix before they recede like waves.
Refined beauty, coming from a place of deep commitment combined with the foundation of a serious musical education, mixed with spontaneous joy, a relentless searching for the divine and a childlike sense of wonder is what makes Yelena Eckemoff’s music so special, so edge-of-the-seat mesmerizing. With her Norwegian bandmates, the sum of the parts adds up to unfathomable whole. The music glows, as if enveloped in an aura. Everyone solos, nobody solos? Sometimes that means an auditory mess. But Eckemoff’s music has such of preconceived structure that the “thread” never unravels or tangles. On Everblue, the tunes sound like written-out pieces with a judicious flexibility built in for the individual players: Brunborg’s organically sacred sax work on tenor and soprano, Andersen’s sharp, singing bass lines, Christansen’s rustling drum work, the ringing cymbal accents, Eckemoff’s virtuosic, crystalline touch and prayerful, gorgeous immediacy.