Russian-born Eckemoff has appeared in these pages before, but her output seems to far outstrip our coverage. Fifteen albums in ten years have appeared on her own L&H label, of which this is No. 15. Having based herself in the US since 1991, she seems to have developed an affinity for a geographical halfway-house in the shape of Scandinavian coworkers, not only the three musicians appearing with her but also the late engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug. The suggestion that this might lead to an ECM sound is only partly borne out by her 14 original compositions, since she clearly prefers a more upfront and heavier piano sound which suits her occasionally stodgy timing. Not every track in these 87 minutes has both percussionists playing together, and their contributions are anyway fairly discreet, but the most interesting presence is that of her frequent sideman Andersen, whose interventions energize the varied material. The track titles all refer to creatures such as ‘Cicada’, ‘Grizzly Bear’ and ‘Hedgehog ‘, but an Eckemoff poem for each in the booklet sometimes says more than the music.
One of my favorite albums of 2020 so far is Yelena Eckemoff’s Nocturnal Animals (16/44.1 FLAC, L&H Production/Tidal). Joining the Russian-born, US-based pianist-composer are double bassist Arild Andersen and drummers and percussionists Jon Christensen and Thomas Strønen. As the title suggests, this two-CD set comprises musical portraits of 14 creatures of the night. These portraits cover almost every animal classification — insect, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal.
“Fox” is a swingy post-bop number, and I loved the way the Pre Box RS2 Digital captured Eckemoff’s skittering piano with just the right amount of transient attack. The long drum solo (or is it a duet?) near the end of the track was fast and impactful — but equally important, the Pre Box RS2 presented each element clearly enough that I could follow them even as they all occurred together. Instead of a big loud mush, I could hear every surface in the drum kit(s) being struck. Throughout the track, the clear, open sound made it easy to follow these four musicians’ interplay.
In addition to comparing the Pre Box RS2 Digital’s and the NAD C 658’s headphone outputs, I listened to the HiFiMan planar-magnetics through my desktop headphone amp, iFi Audio’s iDSD Macro BL ($599).
With Eckemoff’s “Fox,” the iFi sounded a little bigger and more enveloping than the Pro-Ject, but also slightly more dense and hard. The Pre Box RS2 Digital was more spacious and articulate, making it easier to follow the musicians’ interplay; and individual instruments had greater harmonic richness. Eckemoff’s piano sounded fuller through the iFi, but the Pro-Ject better portrayed her touch. Andersen’s double bass sounded
woodier and snappier through the Pro-Ject, bigger and fuller through the iFi. Drum and cymbal attacks were sharper with the Pre Box RS2, brushed snares swishier; but through the iDSD Macro BL the drums sounded bigger and more robust.
At first, the NAD C 658’s headphone amp sounded slightly nimbler and more transparent with this track but also a little harder, while the Stream Box RS2 Digital was fuller, richer, smoother, and more inviting. Further listening revealed that the Pro-Ject’s headphone amp was actually more agile than the C 658’s — inner voices and interplay among the quartet were better resolved. Through the Pro-Ject’s headphone amp, drums and percussion had more impact but didn’t sound at all hard, and Andersen’s bass was richer and snappier.
. . . Gordon Brockhouse
Composer and pianist Yelena Eckemoff originally from Moscow – who has been living in the in North Carolina, USA since 1991 – released the double CD record “Better Than Gold And Silver” last year.
And in 2020 again comes another double CD of this very industrious musician. It is recorded with different musicians this time around and in a trio format, with piano, bass and two drums.
With fourteen pieces which describe the thoughts and characteristics of fourteen wild creatures, who dominate the night, this is another conceptual album. It is easy to figure out which songs show which creature. The record starts with a cicada and ends with the sea turtle.
Anyone who is familiar with the names Andersen, Christensen and Strønen will know what to expect here. Fine-tuned rhythms, a finely balanced and melodic bass sound, a lot of delicate restlessness of the most beautiful drums, images drawn with sounds, with plenty of space for the cinematic expression. The task of listener is to inspect the creatures in question and to find out whether the composer Eckemoff was able to show them properly. But how exactly does a bat or a fox sound? Let’s stay with the “Fox” — he’s swinging, with smooth paws, he’s jumping through the undergrowth, always in his element and in the search for prey.
The “Grizzly Bear”, on the other hand, is more forceful, as are the deep piano notes, the roaring bass and the brave drums arrangement. The rhythm of another song was slowed down in favor of a detailed representation of the slithering “Rattlesnake’s” movement, and the percussion accordingly melts there.
There is no difference between the two CDs, on CD2 the animals just continue to tear the music forward. If you can imagine a spiky “Hedgehog”, you will surely find that it is described correctly in the music, creeping through the undergrowth and equipped with certain cunning in accordance with the fairytales. Also the “Firefly” (CD 2, #5) is flickering and floating fast and easily through the night air. At the end of the second CD we finally can go to subtropical sea to watch the “Sea Turtle”. Again, its theme is full of gentle rhythm.
If you desire to focus on the individual creatures and experience how they realized in music you can do exactly that. Or you can simply be entertained and relaxed just enjoying the lyrical mood of this four-headed trio, to its perfect interplay between the classical piano, the smooth-styled bass and the rhythmic work of the two drummers. Open your hearts to enjoy delicate and noble elements of this music! As the matter of fact, this music has also a typical “ECM sound” and I am curious whether or when Manfred Eicher would desire to produce a record with Yelena Eckemoff.
Die Doppel-CD ”Better Than Gold And Silver”, das war die letzte Veröffentlichung der aus Moskau stammenden und seit 1991 in den USA, in North Carolina lebenden Komponistin und Pianistin Yelena Eckemoff. Und nun schon wieder eine Doppel-CD der sehr fleißigen Musikerin, erneut in anderer Besetzung eingespielt, als Quartett, aber eher ist das ein Trio: Piano, Bass und Schlagzeug, das jedoch mit zwei Musikern besetzt ist.
Vierzehn Stücke, die entstanden sein sollen aus Gedanken über Charakteristika von vierzehn wilden, in der Finsternis lebenden Kreaturen, mithin ein weiteres Konzeptalbum mit musikalischen Eindrücken von Geschöpfen, die die Nacht beherrschen. Um welche es sich hier handelt, lässt sich leicht aus den jeweiligen Titeln der Songs herausfinden. Der Reigen startet mit einer Zikade und endet mit der Meeresschildkröte.
Wem die Namen Andersen, Christensen und Strønen geläufig sind, der wird wissen, was man hier erwarten kann. Fein ziselierte Rhythmen, ein fein austarierter und melodischer Bass-Sound, viel zarte Unruhe von schönster Gestalt, eine klanghafte Bildgebung mit ganz viel Raum für das Kopfkino. Und dann hat man ja nun auch noch die Aufgabe erhalten, sich den jeweiligen Kreaturen zu nähern und zu ergründen, ob die Komponistin Eckemoff das auch hat umsetzen können. Denn – wie klingen eine Fledermaus und ein Fuchs? Bleiben wir beim Fuchs – er swingt, mit geschmeidigen Pfoten hüpft der durch das Unterholz, immer auf der Hut und auf der flotten Suche nach Beute.
Der “Grizzly Bear“ schreitet dagegen behäbiger, dazu die tiefen Piano-Noten, der grummelnde Bass und das tapsige Schlagzeugarrangement. Auch die Klapperschlange (CD 1, #6) kann man sich schlängelnder Weise sicher gut vorstellen, der Rhythmus des Songs wurde hintenan gestellt zugunsten einer dahinfließender Darstellung der Bewegung der Schlange, dazu klappert entsprechend die Perkussion.
Einen Unterschied zwischen den beiden CDs gibt es nicht, auf CD zwei setzt sich der Reigen der Tiere einfach nur fort. Wenn man er vermag, sich einen stacheligen Igel vorzustellen, dann liegt man bei “Hedgehog“ sicher richtig, sich durch das Unterholz schleichend und gemäß der Märchenliteratur mit einer gewissen Schläue ausgestattet. Auch das Glühwürmchen (CD 2, #5) flimmert hell und schwebt flink und leicht durch die Nachtluft, und zum Schluss dürfen wir uns in tropische und subtropische Meeresgebiete begeben, um die Meeresschildkröte zu beobachten. Auch hier ist es gelungen, durch behäbige Rhythmusgestaltung das Thema umzusetzen.
So bleibt es einem belassen, sich entweder wirklich auf die einzelnen Geschöpfe zu konzentrieren und die musikalische Umsetzung mitzuerleben, sofern es denn gelungen ist, oder man genießt ganz einfach die lyrische Stimmung dieses vierköpfigen Trios, denn dieses perfekte Zusammenspiel zwischen dem klassisch geschulten Piano, dem geschmeidigen gestaltendenden Bass und den rhythmischen Tupfern der beiden Schlagwerker ist fürwahr ein unterhaltender und entspannender Hörgenuss, mit ganz filigranen und edlen Elementen! Eigentlich ist diese Musik auch ein typischer “ECM-Sound“, und ich bin gespannt, ob und ggf. wann Manfred Eicher einmal eine Platte mit Yelena Eckemoff produzieren wird.
The US-based Russian pianist Yelena Eckemoff has an inexhaustible supply of ideas that she develops with her high-quality jazz sidemen, who constantly make the most out of them. This time she went to the studio with a trio of Norwegian musicians, bassist Arild Andersen and drummers Jon Christensen and Thomas Strønen, all well-known musicians for their prolific music work, the first two been the rhythm sections of Keith Jarrett’s famous quartet’s and Jan Garbarek’s famous quartet’s in the 1970s. This record goes beyond music, because Yelena is a multifaceted artist, who paints pictures and writes poems, in this case describing night animals. Musical compositions attempt to give an idea of the of each specie’s personality; they are portraits of its characters. Here is a very interesting thing: the rhythm always changes, because of the two drummers, who are very refined and elegant in how they integrate with each other, creating one rhythmically whole record. She gives her sidemen a wide variety of solo to space, while still maintaining a full control of each track. With her experience in both classical music and jazz, as a pianist and as a composer, she creates a very original atmosphere, in some tracks – angular and conspicuous, as in “Hedgehog”, in some others tracks – more liquid, in every case enriching the musical panorama for her listeners. This is very nice record, and as soon as you connect to Yelena’s music, these two CDs quickly flow from first track to the last.
La pianista russa,ma ora residente in USA, Yelena Eckemoff è una fonte inesaurubile di idee che vengono di volta in volta realizzate con sideman di grande qualità, ispirati dalla sua musica a dare costantemente il massimo. Questa volta in studio è andata insieme ad un trio di musicisti norvegesi, il contrabbassista Arild Andersen ed i batteristi Jon Christensen e Thomas Strønen, tutti musicisti noti per la loro prolifica attività, i primi due sono stati negli anni ’70 la ritmica del famoso quartetto di Keith Jarrett e Jan Garbarek. Il disco è qualcosa che va al di là della musica, perché Yelena è un’artista globale, che dipinge e scrive poesie, nella fattispecie dedicate agli animali notturni. Le sue composizioni cercano di dare l’idea del carattere delle specie coinvolte, sono dei ritratti del carattere. Ovunque cambia il ritmo, qui un aspetto molto interessante a causa dei due batteristi, molto raffinati ed eleganti per come si integrano, e l’armonia. Lei ovviamente riesce a dare una bella varietà ai suoi assoli e spazio ai suoi sideman, mantendendo comunque una bella compattezza delle esecuzioni. Con la sua esperienza sia nel campo della musica classica che nel jazz, come pianista e come compositrice, crea delle atmosfere molto originali, alcune angolari e spigolose, come su Hedgehog, altre più liquide, in ogni caso arricchendo il panorama musicale degli ascoltatori. Bel disco, una volta che si entra in sintonia con il mondo musicale di Yelena i due CD scorrono via all’ascolto velocemente.
Genere: jazz piano trio
Label: L & H Productions
Nocturnal Animals is the seventeenth album of Russian pianist Yelena Eckemoff, who turned to face jazz after studying classical music. Eckemoff is a productive composer that sift and weave. Arild Andersen, one of the loyal musicians of ECM, the important music of Norway, where he has been playing together for five albums, and now they are the only body while playing, is in the introductory video of the album, “When the 85-page notation in which the 14 tracks were written down to the finest detail, the recording is difficult. But the process was very enjoyable, ”he says. ECM’s other loyal musician, the famous Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, is also on the album.
Cicada, bat, walkingstick, fox, grizzly bear, lynx, owl, wolf, rattlesnake… Each piece in Nocturnal Animals is about a night animal or an animal that hunts at night and wanders around. Yelena Eckemoff is a musician who writes poetry and paints besides composing, pianist. For example, the cover of this album belongs to her. Or in this album you can find a poem for every piece, for each animal, you can find it in the booklet of the album. Let me quote a couple of lines from “Firefly” here:
“It is my prom tonight, my party time. I’ve waited long for this glamorous and exciting night, when I meet my groom and begin to live out my destiny. ”
“It’s time to go for a ride, tonight is my night. I will find my man and draw my fate, I have been waiting for this charming and exciting night for a long time. ”
I enjoyed listening to Eckemoff’s musical drawing. I liked its dramatic expression. While listening, it takes you for a stroll through the forest of fairy tales, which is dark, mysterious but never scary. Also, in this live-playing album, it is a pleasure to hear the musicians really listen to each other as well as their technical mastery.
Nocturnal Animals, klasik müzik eğitimi aldıktan sonra yüzünü caza dönmüş Rus piyanist Yelena Eckemoff’un on yedinci albümü. Eckemoff ince eleyip sık dokuyan, üretken bir kompozitör. Beş albümdür birlikte çaldığı, çalarken artık yek vücut oldukları Norveç’in önemli, ECM’in sadık müzisyenlerinden kontrbasçı Arild Andersen albümün tanıtım filminde “14 parçanın en ince ayrıntısına kadar yazıldığı 85 sayfalık notasyon söz konusu olunca, kayıt da zorlu geçiyor haliyle. Ama süreç çok keyifliydi,” diyor. ECM’in diğer sadık müzisyeni, ünlü Norveçli davulcu Jon Christensen de albümde.
Ağustos böceği, yarasa, sopa çekirgesi, tilki, boz ayı, vaşak, baykuş, kurt, çıngıraklı yılan… Nocturnal Animals’da her parça bir gece hayvanıyla veya geceleri avlanan, dolanan bir hayvanla ilgili. Yelena Eckemoff besteciliğinin, piyanistliğinin yanı sıra şiir yazan ve resim yapan bir müzisyen. Misal, bu albümünün kapağı da ona ait. Veya bu albümde her parça yani her hayvan için bir şiir yazmış, albümün kitapçığında bulabilirsiniz. Buraya bir kuple ateşböceği bırakayım:
“It is my prom tonight, my party time. I’ve waited long for this glamorous and exciting night, when I meet my groom and begin to live out my destiny.”
“Gezintiye çıkma vaktim geldi, bu gece benim gecem. Erkeğimi bulup kaderimi çizeceğim, bu cazibe dolu ve heyecan verici geceyi uzun zamandır bekliyorum ben.”
Eckemoff’un müzikal olarak çizdiği resmi dinlemekten keyif aldım. Dramatik anlatımını sevdim. Dinlerken sizi karanlık, gizemli ama asla korkutucu olmayan, masalcıklardan oluşan ormanında bir gezintiye çıkarıyor. Ayrıca bu canlı çalım albümde, teknik hakimiyetlerinin yanı sıra müzisyenlerin birbirlerini gerçekten dinlediklerini duymak da çok keyif veriyor.
Yelena Eckemoff has dedicated a great deal of time to translating disparate concepts into music and free-verse poetry during the past decade. And for Nocturnal Animals, the pianist and her band examine fauna with relish and restraint.
It’d be easy to argue that the music here feels more related to Eckemoff’s anthropomorphizing of animals referenced in song titles than to the creatures themselves. Still, the music is evocative: “Rattlesnake” moves with an ominous slither while tastefully avoiding the obvious percussion implements one might expect. Dual drummers Jon Christensen and Thomas Stronen do a lot of heavy lifting, using auxiliary percussion and complex, dancing rhythms to suggest each critter’s essence. And Arild Andersen’s bass lends the music a pleasant rubbery quality, circling around Eckemoff’s left-hand antics, alternating between sturdy support and contrapuntal mischief. The piano is careening but delicate, the bandleader’s right-hand runs occasionally a tad busy. Ultimately, though, Nocturnal Animals is relatively light entertainment, with no grand spiritual or social intentions. It’s just one skilled composer thinking about animals, how they act and what they might think. It’s a fine exercise, and well executed.
MARCH 2020 DOWNBEAT 53
Pianist and composer Yelena Eckemoff has built up a catalogue of impressively themed albums. This recent one is a two-disc affair with bassist Arild Andersen and drummers Jon Christensen and Thomas Stronen. The songs are dedicated to and reflective of various animals in their habitat, ranging from Bats, to owls to even the firefly getting some publicity.
The sounds include an swinging bass and drums for the hip line of “Lynx” with some abstract floating on “Firefly.” “Wolf” is a crystalline delight with piano and bass sparkling and pianistic reflections glisten on “Walkingstick.” There is a floating feel to “Sea” turtle and you can feel the hooting on “Owl” and rich harmonies on “Hedgehog.” A Saint Francis of sounds.
Nocturnal Animals – the last album of 2020 by pianist and jazz composer Yelena Eckemoff, who left Russia in the USA in 1991 and became one of the few Russian jazzmen (jazzwomen) who managed to create her own sound in modern world jazz, successfully perform, record with prominent Western musicians.
she collaborates a lot with Scandinavian jazzmen, and the last album was recorded in marvelous composition: Yelena Eckemoff – piano and compositions; Arild Andersen – double bass; Jon Christensen – drums and percussion; Thomas Stronen – drums and percussion.
the project was recorded not somewhere else, but in the legendary Rainbow Studio in Oslo, recorded by Ian Eric Kongshaug … but this is not an ECM release, which you would immediately think about. The pianist has her own label – L&H Records. judging by the impression of all her albums (and there are quite a lot of them), it seems strange to me that Ekimov has not yet been invited to cooperate with the ECM …
and Nocturnal Animals’ album is excellent, as, indeed, most of her other works!
Nocturnal Animals – последний альбом 2020 г. пианистки и джазового композитора Елены Екимовой (Yelena Eckemoff), уехавшей в 1991 г. из России в США и ставшей одной из немногих российских джазменов (джазвумен), которой удалось создать в современном мировом джазе свое звучание, успешно выступать, записываться с выдающимися западными музыкантами.
она много сотрудничает со скандинавскими джазменами, вот и последний альбом записан в дивном составе: Yelena Eckemoff – piano and compositions; Arild Andersen – double bass; Jon Christensen – drums and percussion; Thomas Stronen – drums and percussion.
записан проект не где-нибудь, а в легендарной Rainbow Studio в Осло, записан самим Яном Эриком Конгсхаугом… но это не релиз ЕСМ, о чем можно было бы сразу подумать. у пианистки собственный лейбл – L&H Records. судя по впечатлению от всех её альбомов (а их довольно много), мне представляется странным, что Екимову до сих пор не пригласили сотрудничать с ЕСМ…
а альбом Nocturnal Animals – превосходен, как, впрочем, и большинство других её работ!
Yelena’s Nocturnal Animals: After a half dozen listens the first disc has all gelled together in my head and how beautiful it is, I cannot count the ways. As per an earlier observation, it’s almost impossible, particularly with Yelena’s piano to tell what is composed and what is improvised which says a huge amount about the quality of both the composition and the improvisation.
A while back I made a comment, based on first hearing of a single track that I thought she reminded me of Thelonious Monk. Very quickly, hearing more of her work i realised that if anything her sound is about as opposite to Monk as you could get. It’s since occurred to me that the ‘jazz’ pianist she most reminds me of is Jack Loussier, of whom i am a big fan. That is of course not to say that her compositions bare obvious imprints of Bach. No doubt Bach has figured heavily in her education, but compositionally any influence has been fully sublimated. This in itself is a compliment to her individuality. I am talking rather in pianistic terms, of her sound. Of the weight, attack, aftertouch, shimmer and sparkle that is the hallmark of a more European formal training. Despite having made her home in America her music is distinctively European, and her jazz language is the more European kind that began with players like Loussier, and Legrand, and blossoming into what today is most exemplified by ECM and the Oslo sound/scene. Less focussed in the Blues, relating to the Blues when at all ironically more than instinctively.
15 discs in 10 years is a tidy balance. “Nocturnal Animals,” the current CD from YELENA ECKEMOFF is also a double one. In 14 ‘Fantasies’ she tries to capture the essence of these nocturnal animals with her classically trained piano playing. She leaves the maximum medium tempo neither for the bat nor for the rattlesnake. Extra striking is the band. Next to Arild Andersen (bass) and Jon Christensen Drums,) who have long been a positive sound to the friends of ECM, the second drummer is, in comparison, the up-and-coming Thomas Stronen. These two harmonize, complement each other as if they were playing from the same gut.
15 Platten in 10 Jahren ist eine ordentliche Bilanz. „Nocturnal Animals“, die aktuelle CD von YELENA ECKEMOFF ist noch dazu gleich eine doppelte. In 14 ‚Fantasien‘ versucht sie mit ihrem klassisch ausgebildeten Klavier-Spiel das Wesen dieser Nachtaktiven zu erfassen. Das maximal mittlere Tempo verlässt sie weder für die Fledermaus noch für die Klapperschlange. Extra auffällig ist die Band. Neben Arild Andersen (Bass) und Jon Christensen Drums), die den Freunden von ECM schon sehr lange positiv im Ohr Klingen, gibt es als 2. Drummer den, im Vergleich, Nachwuchsmann Thomas Stronen. Diese beiden harmonieren, ergänzen sich, als spielten sie aus einem Bauch.