In the Shadow of a Cloud
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The title track, which opens CD 1, is moody and atmospheric in a quintessential ECM-ish sense, though it contains elements of polyphony between the instruments that draws on Eckemoff s classical background. 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 Yelena herself.
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. CD 1 closes with the lazy meditation Hammock Stories, which sets the perfect tone for a hot summer day in the backyard.
CD 2 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. Potter s soprano solo here is outstanding, full of animated expression and surprises along the way, while Yelena engages in some spirited exchanges with him and Rogers near the end of the piece.
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 Yelena on piano, Gress on bass and Cleaver on drums. CD 2 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. --From Press Release by Bill Milkowski
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Though she claims she is neither a poet nor a painter, Yelena Eckemoff is both!
The music, the words, the pictures and painting are all one and belong together, as I am sure she intends them to. These are songs, so well crafted, written and executed. I think of them as songs, as they all tell a story. They may be instrumental, but along with the poems and photos, they are like episodes of a film or chapters of a book. And they are very personal. The imagery in her compositions is vivid, bright, melancholic, nostalgic, filled with memories that are all brought to life through her music.
I really enjoyed the album in its entirety - and I look forward to listening to it again and again. I am sure I will discover something new every time!
Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of work with the world - and for allowing us to step into your own world, Yelena!