Yelena Eckemoff’s leisurely, luxurious homage to her Moscow childhood is an ambitious work that conjures a time and place when family outings were simple, pastoral and satisfying. Far more than a classically informed jazz recording, this is the rose-colored record of a more peaceful world – and an unusually expressive musical portrait of a state of mind and heart that Eckemoff misses dearly. It is also compelling proof that she has moved on.

“In the shadow Of a Cloud” is a work awash in water and sunlight. It’s music that the Eckemoff family might have brought to a midsummer picnic, playing it back on cassette. Many song titles refer to rivers and bridges, and the recording, produced by Eckemoff with extraordinary limpidity, flows from track to track, forming a kind of suite. The recording is lovely even when it’s turbulent: “On the Motorboat” is choppy yet buoyant, as Chris Potter’s tenor saxophone crosses currents with Gerald Cleaver’s springy drums. “Vision Of A Hunt”- a waltz with a folkloric tinge featuring Eckemoff’s under­ stated piano, Potter’s punchy bass clarinet and Adam Rogers’s sinuous guitar-puts the listener in the middle of the chase. In “Saratovsky Bridge,” Potter’s fevered tenor communicates a young Eckemoff’s apprehensiveness about a shaky railroad bridge.

Immerse yourself in Shadow Of A Cloud to experience a world you never knew you missed.


Carlo Wolff for Downbeat, October issue