Born in Moscow, pianist Yelena Eckemoff received extensive classical training, took time off to raise a family and eventually became interested in playing jazz, especially after she moved to the United States in 1991. Her 2010 trio set, Cold Sun, included drummer Peter Erskine and won her some national attention.
Listening to Everblue, it is difficult not to think of the ECM label and the type of music that the company released in its early years. Like on many ECM recordings, Eckemoff’s music blurs the line between melody and improvisation, and between individual solos and ensemble interplay. The music sets an introspective atmosphere rather than introducing catchy themes and passionate individual heroics.
The pianist utilizes two members of Jan Garbarek’s quartet of the 1970s-bassist Arild Andersen and drummer Jon Christensen-who excel at playing this type of atmospheric music. Tenor saxophonist Tore Brunborg emphasizes long tones and quiet, emotional playing, just as Garbarek has throughout his career. The quartet performs eight originals by the pianist along with two by Andersen. None of the individual pieces stand out by themselves, instead serving as a type of suite that segues easily from one performance to the next. Only “Man” has a bit of heat, but otherwise the music’s passion bubbles beneath the surface.