May 2016

Rising From Within
Mushroom Rain
Coffee & Thunderstorm
Sun Spots
Love Train
Leaving Everything Behind
Hope Lives Eternal
Tears of Tenderness
Ocean of Pines
A Date in Paradise
Album Overview:
Yelena Eckemoff, the prolific and enthralling pianist and composer, has earned plaudits for her recent releases 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 and seasoned violinist and improviser Mark Feldman. Eckemoff’s album title, Leaving Everything Behind, was inspired by her departure from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991. Having trained extensively as a classical pianist at the Moscow State Conservatory, Eckemoff showed a strong desire to cross musical boundaries and create her own unique oeuvre. “When my husband and I came to America it was a really difficult time,” she recalls. “We came to America with less than twenty dollars in our pocket, didn’t know the language, we were struggling to get established. Listening to music was not a priority, but I did a lot of composing and performing as a solo pianist.” The hardest thing by far, however, was leaving behind three small boys. “It was really impossible for us to leave Russia,” says the pianist, “so we had to leave our children with my parents for a year and two months just come to America together. It was the most difficult thing we ever did. We didn’t know if we’d have to go back or if they would be brought to us. It was indefinite – we didn’t know how long we weren’t going to see them.” While Leaving Everything Behind tells a story that is inescapably Eckemoff’s own, her poem accompanying the title track, which mentions the Israelites leaving Egypt, hints at what appears to be a deeper message. “They could not take with them all their possessions. They should have taken a lot, though, to start from scratch in a new land. Yet I cannot stop thinking about all that they left behind… And I wonder if they had not left at all, that their essence, after thousands of years, still lingers there, in Egypt.”
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