Oct 23, 2015
“Part of our human consciousness constantly searches and yearns for the divine, unspeakably beautiful, eternal, In my world, I call this place Everblue.” - Yelena Eckemoff
I have enjoyed the piano-based jazz albums of Yelena Eckemoff for a number of years now. The Moscow-born pianist was a child prodigy, and had been classically trained at the finest Moscow schools. Her teachers included Anna Pavlovna Kantor, who also trained the celebrated Evgeny Kissin, and she also studied with Galina Nikolaevna Egiazarova at the Piano School of the Moscow State Conservatory. But she also had an ear for jazz, which she has developed more fully since her arrival in the United States about fifteen years ago.
Residing with her family in North Carolina, Yelena rarely plays live, and so the series of CDs she has released are her primary creative output. She writes all the material for each CD (except for her latest), and brings in the finest musicians to help her flash out the sounds she hears. These sidemen have included drummer Peter Erskine on her Cold Sun CD; Mark Turner (saxophone), George Mrasz (bass), Joe Locke (vibes) and Billy Hart (drums) for A Touch of Radiance; and now Tore Brunborg (sax) , Arild Anderson (bass) and Jon Christensen (drums) for her latest CD, EverBlue.
I’m not the first listener to think that her music would not be out of place on a label like ECM, as it often evokes a sense of serenity and wonder, with pastoral overtones. There is not much swinging on one of her CDs, but her nature-centric compositions are strong, and her fellow musicians flawless.
Podcast 503 is my conversation with Yelena, as she tells how she arrived in the US, who her early influences were as she moved into the world of jazz, and how she came to work with so many fabulous musicians. Musical selections from EverBlue include “Sea Breeze” and “Blue Lamp”, and “Pep” is from A Touch of Radiance.