Thomas Cunniffe for Jazz History Online
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. The original compositions—mostly by Eckemoff, with two tracks written by bassist Arild Andersen—have a floating rhythm feel that aligns them with an ECM sound more than straight-ahead jazz. This allows the band (which also includes saxophonist Tore Brunborg and drummer Jon Christensen) to adopt a loose approach to the ground beat that ebbs and flows rather than simply forges ahead. There is a great deal of interactivity in this music, and Eckemoff leads the quartet with subtle grace from the keyboard. For example, on “Waves and Shells”, she plays a triplet figure through most of the track, but she doesn’t keep those triplets in strict time, and the way she varies the rhythm and phrasing has an effect on every other member of the band. Sculpting improvised performances from the keyboard is no easy feat, but Eckemoff has found a way that works well for her, and as a result, it is fascinating to listen to this meditative album from the perspective of 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. That may be the best way to appreciate the wide palette of colors and sounds that emerges from this highly sensitive quartet.