Yelena Eckemoff – In The Shadow Of A Cloud (2017) [HDTracks FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Yelena Eckemoff – In The Shadow Of A Cloud (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz  | Time – 1:35:44 minutes | 2,09 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Front Cover | © L & H Production

She may rarely perform live in this context, but Yelena Eckemoff has managed to build, over just seven years and a mammoth eleven releases—including her second release of 2017, In the Shadow of a Cloud—a loyal and growing following in the jazz world. It’s all the more remarkable for a multi-talented expat Russian pianist who began life in the classical world, and only entered the jazz world in 2010 with Cold Sun. But there’s even more to marvel at when it comes to Eckemoff, who relocated to the USA a little over a quarter century ago. Consider her accomplishments over the past seven years: she has released the entire body of jazz work on her own L&H Productions imprint, with only the help of publicists to help get the word out; has produced all of her recordings; and, since 2014’s A Touch of Radiance, also contributed original paintings, as well as corresponding poetry to each composition.

A self-described “old fashioned romantic”, Moscow-born pianist-composer Yelena Eckemoff once again demonstrates uncommon lyricism and a gift for melody on In the Shadow of a Cloud, her 11th recording since transitioning from the classical world to jazz back in 2010 with the release of Cold Sun on her own L&H Production label. With a pristine touch and refined sense of form, Eckemoff organically blends classical elements with jazz improvisation in her evocative pieces that strike a delicate balance between being through-composed and full of open-ended exploration.

The title track, which opens the first album, is moody and atmospheric, though it contains elements of polyphony between the instruments. Potter delivers a powerful tenor solo here that culminates in some urgent free blowing in the rubato section. The saxophonist also shines on the driving “Saratovsky Bridge” and more introspective “Fishing Village,” both underscored by Cleaver’s intuitive and interactive pulse on the kit. Potter delivers a rare turn on flute on the dreamy 5/4 “Waters of Tsna River,” which also features brilliant cascading solos by Rogers and Eckemoff herself. “It’s very interesting the way that Yelena writes and thinks about music, the way she would describe every song before we did it,” states Potter. “She clearly has a strong visual or memory sense that’s associated with everything. And you can feel that in the way she writes.”

The gentle “Acorn Figurines,” underscored by Cleaver’s delicate brushwork, is a kind of jazz sonata for quartet showcasing Rogers’ signature legato flow on the fretboard. Gress also turns in an arresting arco solo on this unique hybrid number. Guitarist Rogers also shines on the surging “On the Motorboat,” which shifts into the rubato zone midway through, resulting in some of the most provocative and free-wheeling moments of the session from all the participants. The first album closes with the lazy meditation “Hammock Stories,” which sets the perfect tone for a hot summer day in the backyard.

The second disc opens with jaunty quartet swinger “Picnic in the Oaks,” which has Rogers, Eckemoff, Gress and Cleaver all contributing potent solos. Potter returns on soprano sax for the engaging “Waltz of the Yellow Petals,” which is fueled by Cleaver’s loosely swinging approach to the kit and also features another remarkably fluid solo from Rogers. “Yelena’s music is quite beautiful and really unique. It’s different from a normal jazz record because it’s more through-composed,” states Rogers. “But I wouldn’t describe it as being a ‘classical-jazz’ hybrid record, because it sounds more like she’s assimilated these influences and is expressing them in an already very processed way; processed in a really good way.”

Another quartet number, “Trail Along the River,” has a distinctly through-composed quality, though Eckemoff and Rogers break loose for some sparkling solos within the form. Potter returns on soprano sax on the moody “Lament,” then adds a new color to the proceedings with his potent bass clarinet work on the driving “Vision of a Hunt.” The melancholy quartet ballad “The Fog” showcases Potter’s soaring soprano sax alongside Eckemoff on piano, Gress on bass and Cleaver on drums. The second disc closes with the very pleasant “Tambov Streets on a Summer Night.”

While some of her past works, like Leaving Everything Behind and Blooming Tall Phlox are largely nostalgic, the story of In the Shadow of a Cloud ends with an optimistic outlook at the present and future. As Eckemoff explains, “In the last piece, ‘Tambov Streets on a Summer Night,’ I turn down the opportunity to re-live my past as a shadow, invisible to all, and instead choose the present: Even though my heart aches with love/For the people and places of past days/I don’t belong in those times anymore./My time is in the present/Where I have many tasks unfinished, where my life’s work awaits me./No matter that the road before me grows shorter, I am eager to see what the future holds in store for me”.

01 – In the Shadow of a Cloud
02 – Saratovsky Bridge
03 – Fishing Village
04 – Waters of Tsna River
05 – Acorn Figurines
06 – On the Motorboat
07 – Hammock Stories
08 – Picnic in the Oaks
09 – Waltz of the Yellow Petals
10 – Trail Along the River
11 – Lament
12 – Vision of a Hunt
13 – The Fog
14 – Tambov Streets on a Summer Night

Yelena Eckemoff – piano
Chris Potter – tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, bass clarinet
Adam Rogers – electric guitar
Drew Gress – double bass
Gerald Cleaver – drums