|Yelena Eckemoff ≡ Glass Song (2013)|
Yelena Eckemoff — Glass Song
≥ "Striving to create the finest musical experience."
Location: Moscow, Russia ~ Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S.
Genre: Classical / Fusion / Jazz
Album release: 2013
Record Label: L & H Production
01.) Melting Ice 7:30
02.) Glass Song 9:32
03.) Cloud Break 5:47
04.) Polarity 7:07
05.) Dripping Icicles 7:41
06.) Sweet Dreams 5:35
07.) Whistle Song 6:32
08.) Sunny Day In The Woods 7:22
09.) Elegy 7:43
10.) March Rain 7:56
• Yelena Eckemoff: piano
• Arild Andersen: double-bass
• Peter Erskine: drums, percussion
By DAN BILAWSKY, Published: February 1, 2013
≥ Pianist Yelena Eckemoff got a late start as a full- fledged jazz recording artist but she’s making up for lost time. Eckemoff entered the artistic world as a young classical pianist in the Soviet Union, but she chose to put her work on hold for a spell while raising her children. Eventually, she returned to the piano with renewed creativity energy, but only after leaving her native land. In order to make the move, Eckemoff and her husband had to temporarily leave their three children behind, which was a difficult and gut wrenching decision, but all worked out in the end and her relocation to the United States gave her a new personal and artistic lease on life.
≥ Eckemoff has been living stateside with her family for over two decades now, and she’s recorded more than a dozen albums in various styles and contexts during that time, but it took a while for her to develop an outward identity as a jazz pianist. Cold Sun (L&H, 2009), which was her first recorded meeting with drumming icon Peter Erskine and her first proper trio album, proved to be the major turning point in her jazz career. While she had recorded in jazz settings prior to that album, and had used a trio-plus-guest format on at least one of those occasions, she truly found her voice with this specific eternal triangle formula.
≥ 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. While she never retains the same trio for more than a single record, certain musicians, like Erskine and bassist Mads Tolling, pop up on more than one occasion and certain ideals come to the surface time and time again in her work. 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.
≥ For Glass Song, 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.
≥ Erskine’s identity as a swing drummer or fusion force is suppressed here, as he prefers to use the drums as an instrument of extreme refinement and minimalism. “Dripping Icicles” is the only number that finds him doing a patented jazz ride pattern. Elsewhere, he treats the drums like an equal partner in a chamber music setting. Andersen is out front more often than any bassist on Eckemoff’s other recent releases and his foreground appearance(s) change the trio dynamic that existed on her earlier outings. While he occasionally delivers a no-mistaking-it solo (“March Rain”), his bass usually serves as a guide through various scenes, rather than a scene-stealing soloist. All three musicians find balance as storytellers, team players and solo personalities.
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.
By TYRAN GRILLO
≥ Published: March 7, 2013
≥ Pianist Yelena Eckemoff is refreshing. She has carved a niche for herself with an eye constantly trained to still newer paths. "Once I finish a project, I'm already thinking of the next one," she says, during a phone interview. But let us linger on Glass Song, before being swept away again. ≥ The album offers a set of 10 originals that finds the Russian-born pianist/composer in the company of none other than bassist Arild Andersen and drummer Peter Erskine. Astonishingly, this session marks the first time the two sidemen have played together, despite their extensive ECM tenures.
≥ Yet if their potential collaboration has been separated all these years by mere water, it is made a reality by the same in "Melting Ice." In solace but never solitude, they forge a balance that is intuitive and years in the making: one spinning a hub of recollection, the other spoking it with sunlit avenues of possibility. It is a rural introduction, a moving picture of ice-coated branches and a burning dawn that makes of them dripping icicles of thought. As if to embrace such evocative response, Eckemoff includes, in lieu of liner notes, poetic reflections on each track of this winter in transition:
≥ ...hidden forces of spring are awakening...
≥ and the stiff ground comes alive with tiny multiple streams.
≥ As is clear from her diarist's approach, writing and music are intimately connected. And how does this shape her creative spirit? "I always have something in mind behind my music. My subjects this time are poetic, and so the liner notes reflect that. I thought they might open up other channels. All arts are interconnected."
Therein lies her knack for atmospheres. One needn't look at a single song name to step into its picture. The title track, for one, features Eckemoff playing water-filled glasses, which Erskine complements with his sparse touches. The deep, crystalline changes and wandering qualities find backbone in Andersen's subdued yet melodically rich playing. This track grew out of Eckemoff's improvisations with the glasses. "I was under the spell of the sound, of its purity," she recalls. "There was something magical about it. It was the first brick in the project I thought Arild would love, and he did. It was the beginning of everything." From this we can sense just how openly Eckemoff respects her band mates, how much freer she becomes as she glues more feathers to her improvisatory wings. Between the rubato internal dialogues of "Polarity," which boasts a notable monologue from Andersen, and the moderately syncopated "Dripping Icicles," there is plenty of blush to the snow. There is the sense of a spirit of nature aroused from slumber, such that "Whistle Song" moves like an animal through that snow, a squirrel leaving a trail of hopped tracks and a playful spirit threading them to the tree where they stop.
≥ These distortions of time are part and parcel of Eckemoff's compositional process: "I may not have an agenda, but I do have a feeling. It's like slow motion. I don't know what's going to come next until I get there. I improvise it, but not in real time." Her rigorous classical background inevitably seeps through. The Debussy-an chording of "Sunny Day in the Woods," as an example, contrasts a steady pulse in left hand with playful energies in the right, making for her most beautiful playing on record to date. Are these influences intentional or do they creep in of their own accord? "The latter," Eckemoff says emphatically. "You hear this especially in European jazz. In many ways, I am a classical composer who uses the sounds and principles of jazz as a means of expression. There is virtually no boundary between the two. Everybody will have their own sound, because everybody has different proportions of the two within them. It's important to remember with whom you're playing. Jazz musicians have to play instantly, almost without preparation. That was Arild's only requirement: that he needn't think too much about what's going on, but to feel the music and create his way through it." To be sure, that freedom can be heard in Andersen's solo during the penultimate "Elegy." Here, he brings a taste of the nostalgia that effuses his early quartets, albeit with a quieter pathos, before the profound, scintillating farewell of "March Rain."
≥ This is Eckemoff's most mature album, all the more so for its personnel. Despite his restraint, Erskine evokes a wealth of color and detail, drawing out an emotional body from the piano's interstices. Andersen, meanwhile, brings a needed tactile energy to the session. As for the composer herself, just how positively the project has affected her, how it softens and expands her boundaries and bespeaks a willingness to hone her craft on the grinding stone of experience, can be heard in the music. Eckemoff can be heard thinking out loud through a strong sense of narrative, particularly in the way she begins and ends her pieces.
≥ This is not jazz about technicality, but rather about soul. And it's only the beginning:
≥ Dreaming of good things yet to come,
of love yet to bloom,
of music yet to be made...
Peter Erskine - drums
Born: June 5, 1954
≥ Peter Erskine began playing the drums at the age of four, and has now been at the forefront of world-class jazz ensembles for thirty years. His first major professional work was with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, which he joined in 1972. After a three year stint with Kenton and a two year stay with Maynard Ferguson, he joined Weather Report in 1978. The excellence of the partnership between Erskine and bassist Jaco Pastorius was an integral part of that group's success.
≥ Following his 4 years in Weather Report (having recorded five albums with them including the Grammy Award winning “8:30”), he began to play with Mike Brecker, Mike Mainieri, Don Grolnick and Eddie Gomez in the group Steps Ahead . His other touring and recording credits (400 albums) include Steely Dan, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Gary Burton & Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, Kurt Elling, Sadao Watanabe, Eliane Elias, Mike Stern, Miroslav Vitous and Jan Garbarek; the BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Ensemble, Ensemble Modern, the ASKO, Avanti & Absolute Ensembles; “Bass Desires “ (with John Scofield, Bill Frisell, and Marc Johnson), the John Abercrombie Trio, the Kenny Wheeler Quintet & Big Band , the Bob Mintzer Big Band , the Yellowjackets as well as his own groups, including Trios with John Taylor, Palle Danielsson, Rita Marcotulli, and his current band with Alan Pasqua and Dave Carpenter.
≥ Peter has recorded over fifteen albums including: “Peter Erskine”, “Transition”, “Motion Poet”, “Sweet Soul”, “Big Theatre”, and his ECM recordings You Never Know, “Time Being”, “As It Is” and “Juni” as well as “History of the DRUM”, “Behind Closed Doors” and “Side Man Blue” on his own label FUZZY MUSIC.. His latest playing ventures include The Lounge Art Ensemble; that group's latest CD is titled “Lava Jazz” and a piano trio with Alan Pasqua and Dave Carpenter; their double CD “Peter Erskine & Alan Pasqua with David Carpenter - Live at Rocco” has gotten rave reviews from the press and fans, and their newest CD is titled “Badlands.”
≥ Besides touring and recording, Peter is pursuing new avenues in his career by composing for dance, theatre and animation. He has completed musical scores for Shakespeare's King Richard II and A Midsummer Night's Dream, the latter being honored by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle with the award for the “Best Original Musical Score 1987.” His music for The American Conservatory Theatre's production of Twelfth Night was awarded by the Bay Area Drama Critics' Circle as the “Best Dramatic Score for 1989.” His most recent works for this medium are Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, the dance piece “History of the Drum” (written for the Kokuma Dance Company of Birmingham, England), “The Yield of the Long Bond” for LA's “Matrix Theatre,” and the score for the critically-acclaimed Pasadena Playhouse production of “Side Man.” He has written for animation, and composed the music for the Simon & Schuster books-on-audio series “Alien Voices” starring Leonard Nimoy and John deLancie of Star Trek fame. Peter was Composer-in-Residence at the famed Hilliard Ensemble's choral workshop in Germany during the summer of 2000, and received a BBC commission to compose his suite “Music for Brass and Percussion” in 2001.
≥ Erskine is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, and studied percussion with George Gaber at Indiana University. His own pedagogical efforts include 3 instructional videos, a performance video titled “Peter Erskine Trio / Live at JazzBaltica” (Hudson Music.) as well as 3 drum instruction books, the most recent being titled “Drumset Essentials, Vol. 1”, part of a trilogy of books for Alfred Music Publishing. His other books include “Drum Concepts & Techniques” and “The Drum Perspective”, both published by the Hal Leonard Corp. A collection of Peter's compositions has been released in France for world-wide distribution, titled “My Book”. Peter conducts clinics, classes and seminars world-wide. Peter teaches at the University of Southern California, and is the “Jazz Drumming Consultant” to the Royal Academy of Music in London. He has won the Modern Drummer Magazine Readers' Poll in the Mainstream Jazz Drummer category 7 times, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate degree from the Berklee College of Music. Peter was the soloist along with Evelyn Glennie at the world premiere of a new Double Concerto for Percussion, titled “Fractured Lines,” composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage, in London at the Proms in July 2000 with Sir Andrew Davis conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. That work was recorded for the Chandos label in summer/2002.
≥ His most recent efforts have been “Standards.” and “Worth The Wait,” both from 2007, and “Dream Flight” in 2008.
Born: October 27, 1945
≥ He has been one of Europe's leading bass player since the early 70-ties. Andersen started out as a member of the Jan Garbarek Quartet (67-73). The group also included Terje Rypdal and Jon Christensen. During the same period he also worked with Norwegian singer Karin Krog and played in the rhythm section for visiting American musicians such as; Phil Woods, Dexter Gordon, Hampton Hawes, Johnny Griffin, Sonny Rollins, and Chick Corea. He also worked with Don Cherry and George Russell in these years.
≥ In 1972-74, he visited New York several times and worked with the Stan Getz Quartet, Sam Rivers Trio, Sheila Jordan, Steve Kuhn and Paul Bley.
≥ In 1974 Arild Andersen formed his own quartet. The band toured Scandinavia and Europe and recorded 3 albums for ECM with this band. He also had a band together with singer Radka Toneff in the late 70-ties and early 80-ties.
≥ In 1980 Arild Andersen put together a band that included Kenny Wheeler,Paul Motian,and Steve Dobrogosz (Lifelines, ECM). In 1981 he had a band with Alphonse Mouzon, Bill Frisell and John Taylor (A Molde Concert, ECM). This band also toured Europe in 1983, this time with John Abercrombie on guitar.
≥ In 1982 he formed “The Arild Andersen Quintet” with Jon Christensen (dr) Jon Balke (p`), Tore Brunborg (sax), Nils Petter Molvaer (tp). The band changed name later to “Masqualero”. This band was in the forefront of European jazz for 10 years, the last years as quartet without piano. Masqualero toured the USA, Canada, East and West Europe and made four albums, one for the Norwegian label “Odin” and three for ECM. Three of the albums won the Norwegian “Grammy” award.
≥ In 1993, Arild Andersen released a trio recording with Ralph Towner and Nana Vasconcelos, “If You Look Far Enough” on ECM.
≥ Over the last years Arild Andersen has also spent time investing the possibility of combining traditional Norwegian folk music with improvised music. In 1988, he started a collaboration with singer Kirsten Braaten Berg, one of the leading artists in Norwegian folk music. This lead to the successful work “Sagn” premiered in 1990 and performed more than 40 times including Town Hall, New York, Germany and Scandinavia. “Sagn” was recorded in 1991 on the Norwegian label “Kirkelig Kulturverksted” and later released on ECM. In 1993 Andersen premiered a new work called “Arv”, also recorded on Kirkelig Kulturverksted.
≥ In 1994 he wrote music for a theatre version on the Nobel prized trilogy “Kristin Lavransdatter” by Sigrid Undset. This also lead to several performances of the concert version of the music and a recording for Kirkelig Kulturverksted. Arild Andersens work “ Hyperborean”, commissioned by “The Molde International Jazz Festival” premiered in 95. This was a 9-piece band including the Norwegian string quartet Cikada. The music was recorded in October 96 and was released in September 1997 by ECM.
≥ In 1998 he formed a trio together with German trumpeter Markus Stockhausen and French percussion-player Patrice Heral. This trio + Terje Rypdal as a guest, made a CD called “Karta”, released in September 2000 by ECM. Andersen has also started a collaboration with English drummer John Marshall and the Greek piano player Vassilis Tsabroupolos. This trio released a CD called “Achirana” also on ECM. In 2004 the second trio CD “The Triangle” was released.
≥ In 2002 Andersen wrote 3 pieces for Jazz Trio (Stockhausen/Andersen/Heral) and Symphony Orchestra commisioned by Bergische Symphoniker premiered on March 2002 in Germany. This work was also performed with Stavanger Symphony Orchestra during the festival Maijazz 2003. In 2002, he recorded a CD 'The Sign' (Stunt Records ) with Danish piano player Carsten Dahl and Patrice Heral, percussion. Their latest CD 'Moon Water' was released January 2004.
≥ The group with Stockhausen and Heral also recorded in June 2003 with guitar player Ferenc Snetberger and their CD 'Joyosa' was released by Enja in March 2004. In April 2005 his work 'Electra' was released by ECM. This was originally written for the drama Electra by Sophocles commissioned by the Athens Cultural Olympic Commitee for the 2004 Olympic Games.
≥ In 2005 Enja released the CD 'Nomad' with the new Snetberger/Andersen/Vinaccia trio. Arild Andersen was “Artist In Resident” at The Molde International Jazzfestival 2005.
|Yelena Eckemoff ≡ Glass Song (2013)|
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