Leaving Everything Behind Yelena Eckemoff
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- 2Rising from Within05:04
- 3Mushroom Rain06:57
- 4Coffee & Thunderstorm07:28
- 5Spots of Light07:42
- 6Love Train08:21
- 7Leaving Everything Behind08:33
- 8Hope Lives Eternal07:40
- 9Tears of Tenderness07:20
- 10Ocean of Pines08:07
- 11A Date in Paradise08:23
Info for Leaving Everything Behind
With her release Leaving Everything Behind, Yelena Eckemoff, the prolific and enthralling pianist and composer deepens her multifaceted body of work by drawing on older original material. These compositions, in various ways, recall for Eckemoff deeply personal events and contemplations. Yet in reinventing her own works so thoroughly and imaginatively, Eckemoff looks back to look forward, approaching her older material from the heights of her acquired skills as a jazz pianist and band leader. Inhabiting that rarefied area between modern classical chamber music and progressive jazz, Eckemoff once again enlists legendary drummer Billy Hart, whose expressive capacities and timbral choices give the music an unstinting freshness. Completing the lineup is sought-after bassist Ben Street and seasoned violinist and improviser Mark Feldman.
There is a strong through-composed element in Eckemoff s music, yet her melding of complex written material with a flowing, elastic sense of rhythm is what gives her efforts, Leaving Everything Behind included, an improvisational and even playful feeling.
Yelena Eckemoff, the prolific and enthralling (Downbeat) pianist and composer, has earned plaudits for her recent CDs , Everblue, , Lions, A Touch of Radiance, Glass Song and more. She has made high-level original music with sidemen on the order of Peter Erskine, Arild Andersen, Jon Christensen, George Mraz, and Mark Turner. With her new release Leaving Everything Behind, she deepens her multifaceted body of work by drawing on older original material, a few pieces dating as far back as the 1980s. To emphasize my concept behind this album, I needed to go back to my roots, says the pianist. I wanted to draw on music I composed when I knew very little if anything at all about the modern jazz field.
These compositions, in various ways, recall for Eckemoff deeply personal events and contemplations. Yet in reinventing her own works so thoroughly and imaginatively, Eckemoff looks back to look forward, approaching her older material from the heights of her acquired skills as a jazz pianist and band leader. Inhabiting that rarefied area between modern classical chamber music and progressive jazz (All About Jazz), Eckemoff once again enlists legendary drummer Billy Hart, whose expressive capacities and timbral choices give the music an unstinting freshness. Completing the lineup is sought-after bassist Ben Street (Danilo Pérez, David Virelles, Billy Hart Quartet) and seasoned violinist and improviser Mark Feldman (John Abercrombie, Sylvie Courvoisier, Uri Caine).
Eckemoff confronts these memories and others in a series of poems that accompany each of the tracks on Leaving Everything Behind (a practice she began on Glass Song from 2012). The cover art and all interior drawings are also Eckemoff s. In fact the front cover artwork dates back to the time when she composed the music. I am a professional musician, and painting and poetry for me has always been just a hobby. But I believe that including my own poetry and paintings into the CD package gives people an opportunity to connect with my music on a deeper, more personal level. Also, I think it s important in the age of streaming to offer people a comprehensive physical object, a fuller experience of art.
There is a strong through-composed element in Eckemoff s music, yet her melding of complex written material with a flowing, elastic sense of rhythm is what gives her efforts, Leaving Everything Behind included, an improvisational and even playful feeling. Of the eleven pieces, Mushroom Rain, Leaving Everything Behind and Hope Lives Eternal were composed when Eckemoff was in her early 20s. Ocean of Pines, an intricate piece with waltz, 4/4 and rubato sections and a haunting, elusive harmonic character, was composed in 2005, while six remaining pieces stem from a fruitful period in 2008.
The magnificent texture of the quartet, the transparent beauty of these four unique instrumental voices, is immediately apparent on Prologue, which leads to the darker, more rhythmically emphatic Rising From Within. Other highlights include the contrapuntal dancing of Eckemoff and Feldman on Spots of Light, the Billy Hart-driven groove of Love Train (not to be confused with the O Jays hit), the lilting quasi-shuffle feel and poignant lyricism of Tears of Tenderness and the stately 3/4 pulse and soaring Feldman solo that enlivens A Date in Paradise. (From Press Release by David Adler)
Yelena Eckemoff, piano
Mark Feldman, violin
Ben Street, double bass
Billy Hart, drums
was born in Moscow, Russia, in the Soviet Union. Her parents noticed that she had musical talent when she started to play piano by ear at the age of four. Yelena’s mother, Olga, a professional pianist, became her first piano teacher. At the age of seven Yelena was accepted into an elite Gnessins School for musically gifted children where, in addition to common school subjects, she received extensive training in piano, music theory, music literature, solfeggio, harmony, analysis of musical forms, conducting, composing, and other musical subjects. She was fortunate to study piano with Anna Pavlovna Kantor, who also trained one of today’s most celebrated pianists, Evgeny Kissin. Later Yelena studied piano with Galina Nikolaevna Egiazarova at the Moscow State Conservatory. Upon graduation with Master’s Degree in piano performance and pedagogy, she worked as a piano teacher in one of Moscow music schools, gave solo concerts, attended courses at the Moscow Jazz Studio, played in an experimental jazz-rock band, and composed a lot of instrumental and vocal music.
In 1991, with her husband, Yelena emigrated to the United States. While assimilating and surviving in a new country and raising children, she had to put her musical career on hold. During these years Yelena experimented with synthesizer and MIDI sequencer in her little home studio, then founded an ensemble of local musicians. She self-released albums in various genres including classical, vocal, folk, Christian, and her original music.
She recorded her first jazz album, COLD SUN, in 2009, accompanied by drummer Peter Erskine and Danish bassist Mads Vinding, which proved to be the major turning point in her jazz career. Cold Sun was names one of 15 best jazz CD releases of 2010 by Warren Allen (AAJ) and drew comparisons to the stark music of ECM Records.
From that point on, Eckemoff churned out compelling and focused jazz albums at an astounding pace; she recorded and released four more piano trio records in less than four years engaging such notable jazz musicians as Mads Vinding, Morten Lund, Mats Eilertsen, Marilyn Mazur, Darek Olezskiewicz, Peter Erskine, and Arild Andersen. FORGET-ME-NOT (L & H, 2012) was in the best 10 on CMJ charts for over 10 weeks. “Themes of nature, sounds of isolation, stark settings, and blurred lines between compositional and improvisational elements are visible on all of Eckemoff’s trio dates, but no two records sound exactly the same.” (John Kelman)
For GLASS SONG (L&H, 2013), she reenlisted Erskine and brought bassist Arild Andersen into the fold for the first time. Surprisingly, neither veteran had ever recorded together, but you would never know it. “Eckemoff, Andersen and Erskine create music that’s focused, yet free floating, and open, yet never nebulous. Pure melody is of less importance than the greater narrative in each number, but the music still sings out with melodic grace. While Manfred Eicher and his storied label have nothing to do with this record, Glass Song has that “ECM sound,” if ever it existed. Mystery, blooming musical thoughts and vaguely haunting notions are at the heart of this captivating album.” (Dan Bilawsky)
Yelena Eckemoff ‘s Lions (L&H 2015), with bassist Arild Andersen and drummer Billy Hart is a long but comprehensive look at animals in the wild with human touches, a classical-jazz soundtrack that goes beyond the superficial, intermission grabs for attention and seeks out the feelings beneath the eerily accurate movements.
“EVERBLUE (L&H, 2015) has Arild Andersen, saxophonist Tore Brunborg and drummer Jon Christensen. This Norwegian all-star contingent fits beautifully into Eckemoff’s aesthetic: Andersen with his looming pronouncements like final summations; Christensen with his suggestive rhythmic ambiguity; Brunborg with his clear, clean sound and respect for space. Glass Song, Lions and Everblue contain some of the most powerful, poetic work of Andersen’s long career.” (Thomas Conrad)
“LEAVING EVERYTHING BEHIND (L&H, 2016) is united around themes of departure and loss. Yelena wrote a poem for each piece and made the cover art. She is accompanied by violinist Mark Feldman, whose background is in classical and country music. Several of compositions date from the 1980s; a time when she was just beginning her exploration into jazz. These pieces seem highly refined, replete with airy, vague harmonies that refer equally to Bill Evans and Claude Debussy.” (Mark Sullivan)
BLOOMING TALL PHLOX (L&H, 2017) is intended to evoke different scents that Yelena Eckemoff recalls from her childhood in Russia. These powerful smells trigger a myriad of magical memories, each of which somehow, is transformed into a moveable feast of sounds – melodies set free by Yelena Eckemoff on a gloriously tuned piano and harmonized by Verneri Pohjola, a Finnish horn player, together with Panu Savolainen on vibraphone, Antti Lötjönen on bass and the percussionist colorist Olavi Louhivuori.
Although jazz is associated with improvisation, Eckemoff often writes her tunes out. Her music has been described as classical chamber music in the context of improvisational jazz. She developed a highly acclaimed jazz style that incorporates her classical technique and influences very effectively. With each new record Eckemoff’s distinctive, recognizable approach to melody becomes even more prominent. Yelena Eckemoff uses life and nature’s bouquets as her muse to create the body of work that blends post-modern abstraction, classical thought, and jazz language into a seamless whole. True to her classical-jazz impressionism, Eckemoff sees humanity in nature.
A band leader, producer and co-founder of L & H Production record label, Yelena also gives piano lessons. She had served as a church musician and choir director for over 22 years, until she got too busy with her recording and performing schedule. Yelena believes in hard work, God’s guidance, humanism, and eternal love.