Jon Neudorf for Sea of Tranquility

Cold Sun is the latest CD from Russian born pianist and composer Yelena Eckemoff. Yelena studied piano at the Piano School of the Moscow State Conservatory and graduated with a Master’s Degree in piano performance. She has made and appeared on many recordings which brings us to her latest CD. Joining Yelena are two household names in the world of jazz: Danish bassist Mads Vinding and drummer Peter Erskine who has worked with the likes Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell and Pat Metheny.

The acoustic trio has produced a modern jazz record of outstanding quality although this one may take some time before it sinks in. The melodies are not readily accessible as they are buried just beneath the surface and it takes a bit of work to pull them out. There is an experimental dissonance at work here that is not easily accessible but is well worth the effort in the end. All three musicians work beautifully together intertwining compositional form and improvisation seemingly at will. Eckemoff’s edgy piano textures weave around the outstanding rhythm play of Erskine and Vinding and all three excel in the free form jazz style.

With song titles like “Freezing Point”, “Snow Bliss” and “Winter” it is not hard to imagine a theme of winter which somehow seems fitting for a Russian born musician. The album begins with the title track, a mournful number with a somber edge with lovely piano displaying a gentle touch and a fat bass sound. This is jazz with an eclectic edge but with no less charm. “After Blizzard” features stark piano, a subtle bass groove and washes of percussion invoking the calm after the storm before turning in an experimental direction, especially Erskine’s improvisational drum work. The eclectic jazz of “Stubborn” is a wild ride of pure dissonance where deliberate bass lines and wonderful piano fills intertwine forming a cacophony of conflicting sounds. The album takes on a gentler approach with the compositional balladry of “Romance by the Fireplace” and “White Magic” before ending with the thirteen minute long “Winter” featuring marching style drums and intense piano work.

Eckemoff and company have produced an excellent album with Cold Sun. Fans of eclectic acoustic jazz will eat this one up, I guarantee it.