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Music Review: Yelena Eckemoff – FORGET-me-NOT

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Yelena Eckemoff – FORGET-me-NOTAfter three album releases in 2010 featuring piano, bass and drums, Yelena Eckemoff’s 2011 project FORGET-me-NOT continues to explore the virtuosity that we’ve come to expect from the innovative jazz pianist who was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. Trained at the Moscow Conservatory, Eckemoff has expertise in classical music, jazz, experimental jazz-rock, and compositions for various instruments and voice. Yelena has been composing since age five, and her album releases number about 20. Now making her home on a North Carolina pine tree farm, she also enjoys painting, photography and gardening. Her motto, “Striving to create the finest musical experience” is only one element embodied in her love of life.

With its 10 original tracks (most of which span from five to nine minutes apiece), FORGET-me-NOT provides beautifully minimalist moments, as well as passages full of mystique and intrigue. Recorded over the course of two days in Denmark, the thoughtful, delicate, and intimate compositions are meant for easy listening and reflective contemplation. The skillful trio—pianist Yelena Eckemoff, bassist Mats Eilertsen, percussionist Marilyn Mazur—presents the music in such a way that the boundaries between structure and improvisation are seamless.

The disc runs 72 minutes, from “Resurrection of a Dream” to the closing “Welcome a New Day.” “Five” appears at track #5, and I only hope it’s not bad luck to put the piece entitled “Seven” at track #8. “Sand-Glass” delivers its impressions with coherence and content. “Trapped in Time” could easily be an emblematic theme for this introspective music that exudes relaxed sophistication.

For several decades, Eckemoff has been establishing her reputation for creative music that is both free and romantic. Slower tempos reinforce the modest and restrained expressions, yet at the same time we discover that this group’s vision is to make transcendent musical statements. The result is je ne sais quoi, with fascinating elements and qualities which are hard to describe. To fully understand and appreciate the nuance of this music, tune into the emotional content of the pieces. See if they don’t become memorable as they resonate from heart to heart across cultures.

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