There’s a rare delicacy to this luminous, ECM-ish piano-trio outing that features the remarkably sensitive rhythm duo of bassist Darek Oles and drummer Peter Erskine. … Among the real gems are “Promise,” “A Smile,” the sparse “Isolated” and poignant “Mama,” all underscored by Oles’ graceful, woody tones and Erskine’s painterly approach to the kit. Drum fans will revel in Erskine’s choices throughout this keenly interactive offering.
Pianist Yelena Eckemoff’s classical training in Russia certainly stands out on her “Flying Steps” CD, but so do the improvisational and interplay capabilities of her trio with bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz and drummer Peter Erskine. …Flying Steps” is a democratic, ECM-inspired statement by a true jazz original.
What more need to be said about Yelena Eckemoff? Besides the fact that she is an exceptional pianist/composer who has released numerous recordings that attests to it. In keeping step with her progression, her latest collection, Flying Steps, is merely a catapult boasting all and more that Eckemoff is capable of.
You really have to hand it to Eckemoff. She’s quickly managed to create an enviable body of work that blends post-modern abstraction, classical thought, and jazz language into a seamless whole. There’s a fearlessness in her art that’s not always addressed in discussions of her work. It’s not so easy to just dive into jazz when you’re further down life’s road, it’s certainly a challenge to try to match forces with some of the music’s giants shortly after taking the initial plunge, and it’s quite difficult to create original music that offers intelligent thought and surprise when you’re working under the aforementioned realities. Kudos to her for overcoming those obstacles.
Eckemoff’s piano playing is a big part of the sound. She tends to give more solo space to her guests, but she has plenty of shining minutes as soloist, as well as providing important musical glue holding the arrangements together. She is definitely a jazz pianist now, and it may be just the power of suggestion hearing evidence of her classical training.
Having left the classical world behind for a turn in the new age world, Eckemoff sheds her skin once again and comes in with a classic, ECM worthy date that finds her mixing angular jazz with left leaning impressionism aided by a crew of experienced New Yorkers that know how to deliver this sound and vision. This is the sound of her memories of days gone by, spread over two discs with some improv aces that know how to sound like she feels. Certainly something different and out of the ordinary.