Eckemoff’s latest project is titled Nocturnal Animals, which adds another link to her chain of thoughtful concept albums. Released on her L&H Production imprint on January 24, 2020, the double album features fourteen musical impressions of animals that come out at night. The music is brought to life by Eckemoff on piano together with bassist Arild Andersen and drummers Jon Christensen and Thomas Strønen. Andersen acts mainly as a counter-melodist with Eckemoff. This is offset by the dual drummers’ rhythmic structures around each other and the melodies. “Jon is so unique, so insanely original; he doesn’t play patterns or beats, he plays around the beat, against the beat, building layers,” Eckemoff explains. “Thomas grew up listening to Jon. If anyone could work together with him, it was Thomas…. You can hear how differently they play and, at the same time marvel at their remarkable compatibility and interplay.” Eckemoff also has a theme that the music is reflected in her paintings and poems that accompany each track. The animals vary, ranging from the fox depicted in Eckemoff’s cover painting to cicadas, owls, bats, scorpions, and fireflies.
Our favorite track is “Fox.” Set to a swing feel, which is unusual for Eckemoff, “Fox” has a Monkish style melody that stabs its way through the form. Eckemoff’s solo continues the theme as she develops descending lines around the angular motif. The counterpoint between her left and right hand is very cool. Andersen’s bass sound is singing, and his intonation is beautiful as he navigates the harmonic landscape with ease. The dual drummers give the feel an added energy and push that is very creative. The conversational drum solo is musical and builds back to the melody.
Eckemoff’s albums, as a leader, continue to find creative avenues of expression and orchestrations. Eckemoff’s compositions have always put her in a special place in the jazz world, and now, Nocturnal Animals is starting to mark her as a serious pianist too. A unique project and worth a listen.