Yelena Eckemoff: Lonely Man and His Fish (2021 , L&H Production, 2CD): Russian pianist, usual classical training, came to US in 1991 and switched to jazz. Original compositions, trio with Ben Street and Eric Harland plus major help from Kirk Knuffke (cornet) and Masaru Koga (Japanese flutes). B+(***) [cd]
Yelena Eckemoff: I Am a Stranger in This World (2016-20 , L&H Production, 2CD): Pianist, switched from classical to jazz when she moved to US in 1991. Pieces inspired by Biblical Psalms (this is identified as the “instrumental version”). Mostly with Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Adam Rogers (guitar), Drew Gress (bass), and Nasheet Waits (drums), with the occasional sub. B+(*) [cd] [05-20]
Monday, May 9, 2022
Yelena Eckemoff: Adventures of the Wildflower (2019 , L&H Production, 2CD): Russian pianist, classical training, came to US in 1991 and switched to jazz, has a substantial catalogue since 2010, original compositions, last two albums doubles. She recorded this one in Finland with local musicians, trio plus spots for guitar, sax, and/or vibes. B+(**) [cd] [03-19]
Yelena Eckemoff: Nocturnal Animals (2018 , L&H Production, 2CD):
Russian pianist, got a good education in classical music before moving to US in 1991, where her interests eventually turned to jazz (especially from 2009 forward). Recorded this one in Oslo with all-stars Arild Andersen on bass and Jon Christensen and Thomas Strønen on drums. B+(**)
Yelena Eckemoff/Manu Katché: Colors (2017 , L&H Production): Pianist, classically trained in Moscow before she left the Soviet Union in 1991, then drifted into jazz. All her original material, duets with the French percussionist, who seems to offer all the help she needs. B+(***)
Yelena Eckemoff: Better Than Gold and Silver (2018, L&H Production, 2CD): Pianist, from Russia. wrote music for a number of Biblical Psalms, presenting them on two discs, one vocal, the other just instrumental. I really dislike the vocal disc, which draws on classical European church singing, losing whatever musicality the words might ever have had by wrapping them awkwardly around the arbitrarily crafted melodies. So I was surprised to find that I like the instrumental versions a lot. Those melodies that easily thwart the words and singers suit Ralph Alessi’s trumpet just fine. B+(**) [cd]
Yelena Eckemoff Quartet: Desert (2015 , L&H Production): Russian pianist, trained under the Soviets in classical music, moved to US in 1991 and took a shot at jazz in 2009. Back cover shows the diminutive redhead surrounded by three giants with white (or no) hair: Paul McCandless (oboe, English horn, soprano sax, bass clarinet), Arild Andersen (double bass), and Peter Erskine (drums). Lovely pastorales, the piano and reeds alternately delightful. B+(***) [cd]
Piano trio, with Mats Eilertsen on bass and Marilyn Mazur on percussion. Smart, precise, tasteful, as is everything I’ve heard from her. B+(***)~Tom Hull, Jazzprospecting.
This is a piano trio, cut in Copenhagen with Mads Vinding on bass and Morten Lund on drums. All originals. Most have strong rhythm and I always like that in a pianist, along with crisp and clever.