Russian born pianist Yelena Eckemoff is establishing herself strongly in the North American jazz world. Since moving to North Carolina with her husband in 1991, she has shown that her classical training has proven most compatible in her move into jazz expression.
Her new double-CD album is a continuing example of her playing and compositional skills. All the compositions are hers, as is the production, and there is a 28-page booklet of poems and background to accompany the music.
She recruited some pretty impressive help for this project, with Chris Potter on saxes, Adam Rogers on guitar, Drew Gress on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. Much of Eckemoff’s compositional inspiration is drawn from her memories of her earlier Russian life.
The titles reflect this — Fishing Village, Picnic In The Oaks, On The Motorboat — and the mood is balanced by the memories. While thoroughly modern in approach and sound, there are no hard edges here; simply accessible, sometimes driving and often introspective “tone poems” if you will.
The collective experience and maturity of the band brings the word confidence to mind. Saxophonist Potter said the writing “awakens a feeling” and the result is supported with repeated listenings. There is a calmness to the music that is very evocative of the memories being represented in sound. Highly recommended.
★★★★1/2 out of five stars