Title: Yelena Eckemoff’s “Colors”: A Jazz Piano/Drums Duet from Heaven!
Perched for release in February 2019 is pianist extraordinaire Yelena Eckemoff’s latest musical gift to us all, this time an unbelievably attuned duet with master drummer Manu Katché. Ms. Eckemoff’s resumé speaks for itself, 14 (that’s right: 14!) album releases in this past decade, all of them featuring her incredibly rich compositions and amazing keyboard facility alongside the absolute cream of the crop of contemporary jazz artists. Manu Katché comes to this recording with decades now of having first accompanied hall of fame pop artists from Peter Gabriel and Joni Mitchell to Sting and the Band’s Robbie Robertson, then moving into an entire second career as drummer-of-choice for the much-honored jazz label, ECM Records, including as featured percussionist with European sax giant Jan Garbarek as well as Katche’s own series of best-selling solo albums (themselves highlighting performances by major movers and shakers in modern-day European jazz).
Which brings us to this unanticipated surprise of an album: gorgeous piano and nuanced composition meets equally gorgeous and nuanced drumming, care of two of the more extraordinary artists on the planet! Yelena Eckemoff provides one singable melody after another, improvising freely off each theme she lays down, and is followed (and perhaps sometimes even led?) by the sterling contributions of Manu Katché. In jazz, one of the highest compliments a musician might receive is to be observed as having “big ears,” that is, to be one who listens closely to her or his fellow creative colleagues, and engaging in a kind of real-time dialogue, truly in “flow,” which is quite possibly jazz’s greatest addition to the stage of world music. Suffice it to say that Ms. Eckemoff and Mr. Katché listen so closely, and interact with such exquisite sensitivity, that it becomes difficult to even separate them from one another – theirs is an intimacy rarely experienced in any art form.
A brief postscript: a duet performance of only piano and drums, like the current recording, is itself exceedingly rare. And this dance of truly companion spirits is precious beyond words. This music serves as meditative backdrop, if one so desires; it is equally deserving of microscopic attention, insofar as two such stellar talents provide respectively an album-length set of in-depth master lessons in musical dynamics, technical acumen, and intensely in-sync interplay. I, for one, found myself in no way longing for any other instrumental accompaniment (in jazz, for example, typically with bass and some type of horn). This meal is complete of itself – soul-satisfying in every way.
So what are you waiting for? Order a copy of Yelena Eckemoff’s “Colors” now, and prepare yourself for some serious pleasure with an unprecedented album of piano/drum duets that are guaranteed to be timeless.