Primary Instrument: Piano
Yelena Eckemoff was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. Her parents noticed that she had great musical potential when she started to play piano by ear at the age of four. Yelena's mother, Olga, a professional pianist, became her first piano teacher. At the age of seven Yelena was accepted into an elite Gnessins 10-year School for musically gifted children where, in addition to common school subjects, she received extensive training in piano, music theory, music literature, solfeggio, harmony, analysis of musical forms, conducting, composing, and other musical subjects. She was fortunate to study piano with Anna Pavlovna Kantor, who also trained one of today's most celebrated pianists, Evgeny Kissin. Later Yelena studied with Galina Nikolaevna Egiazarova at the Piano School of the Moscow State Conservatory. Upon graduation with Master's Degree in piano performance and pedagogy, she worked as a piano teacher in one of Moscow Music Schools, gave solo concerts, attended courses at the Moscow Jazz Studio, played in an experimental jazz-rock band, and continued to compose music for different instruments and voice.
After marrying and becoming a mother, Yelena had to withdraw from further career moves as a concert pianist. Even though she has never given up her performing activities, she had to stay away from commercial music circles. Together with her husband she found the Christian faith and decided to flee the Soviet Union.
Since 1991, Yelena has been living permanently in the USA, where she continued to play concerts and compose music. Taking advantage of technological advancements, Yelena also began developing her career as an independent recording artist. Over the course of years, she has produced a number of recordings of her original, arranged, and classical music under the independent label, L & H Production.
Yelena's original music has been acclaimed as intelligent, tasteful, reflective, sometimes dark and edgy, always interesting, diverse and very romantic. It is rooted in the modern classical approach, much influenced by jazz and world music. Listeners commented that Yelena's music often served as a source of inspiration and made them feel relaxed. Many said that this kind of sophisticated music can withstand and even get better with multiple listenings.
A band leader, a founder of Yelena Eckemoff's Piano School as well as Singers of Hope Chorus, Yelena also gives piano lessons and serves as a church musician and choir director. Her hobbies include oil-on-canvas painting, photography, and gardening. She lives with her family and pets on their pine tree farm in a quiet corner of North Carolina. Yelena believes in hard work, God's guidance, humanism, and eternal love.
The result? Music of uncommon beauty and pathos.” --Jan Dennis, Amazon.com
“Eckemoff isn't as concerned with musical tradition as she is with actively capturing various creatures of sound, fusing them together and giving life to another breed of musical species.” --David Locklear, Go Triad magazine
”Eckemoff’s new album, Advocate of Love, shows this remarkable pianist’s influences, namely the modern classical movement, contemporary and be-bop jazz as well as others. It is remarkably mature and often programmatic in nature. It is not conducive for casual listening or as background music, as Eckemoff’s compositions demand attentive listening--and are quite worthy of it... Eckemoff’s Advocate of Love is a distinctive, authentically sophisticated album. Think of it as a classical work performed by a jazz piano trio, or a jazz album performed by a 20th century classical chamber trio. Somewhat akin to the Jacque Loussier Trio’s jazz approach to Baroque music but instead, taking its cue from classical music created several hundred years into the future. Each of Eckemoff’s compositions take the listener on a different sonic sojourn, with circuitous pathways teeming with aural discoveries. You could dance to it, but you’d best have some training in ballet, modern and jazz dance. Eckemoff’s compositional skills would also prove fortuitous for creating film scores and other thematic works. Not for the light-hearted, but very well done.” --Robert Kaye, Abstract Logix
YELENA ECKEMOFF/Cold Sun: There's ECM music lingering beyond the ECM gates. Perhaps the bleakest picture of winter since Reds, this Russian composer paints her impressionistic portrait as only one afraid of being sent to Siberia can do. A first rate piece of modern, chamber jazz for the sitting down jazz lover. Chris Spector, Midwest Records.
If Eckemoff demonstrates anything with this enthralling winter-themed album, it lies in her artistry as an inquisitive, slow-paced, and free-of-sentimentality pianist able to express special emotional qualities linked to song titles like After Blizzard, Romance by the Fireplace, and Snow Bliss. Excellent simpatico support from drummer Peter Erskine and double-bass player Mads Vinding.-- Frank-John Hadley, Downbeat.
...The acoustic trio has produced a modern jazz record of outstanding quality although this one may take some time before it sinks in. The melodies are not readily accessible as they are buried just beneath the surface and it takes a bit of work to pull them out. There is an experimental dissonance at work here that is not easily accessible but is well worth the effort in the end. All three musicians work beautifully together intertwining compositional form and improvisation seemingly at will. Eckemoff's edgy piano textures weave around the outstanding rhythm play of Erskine and Vinding and all three excel in the free form jazz style. With song titles like Freezing Point, Snow Bliss and Winter it is not hard to imagine a theme of winter which somehow seems fitting for a Russian born musician. The album begins with the title track, a mournful number with a somber edge with lovely piano displaying a gentle touch and a fat bass sound. This is jazz with an eclectic edge but with no less charm. After Blizzard features stark piano, a subtle bass groove and washes of percussion invoking the calm after the storm before turning in an experimental direction, especially Erskine's improvisational drum work. The eclectic jazz of Stubborn is a wild ride of pure dissonance where deliberate bass lines and wonderful piano fills intertwine forming a cacophony of conflicting sounds. The album takes on a gentler approach with the compositional balladry of Romance by the Fireplace and White Magic before ending with the thirteen minute long Winter featuring marching style drums and intense piano work. Eckemoff and company have produced an excellent album with Cold Sun. Fans of eclectic acoustic jazz will eat this one up, I guarantee it.--John Neudorf, Sea of Tranquolity.
Cold Sun is a piano trio release from Eckemoff which focuses on impressions of winter scenes (a follow up - entitled Grass Catching the Wind is to be released soon as well). There is an ECM-feel to the pieces, which meld improvisation and composition, and classical and jazz elements intricately and seamlessly. The talented artist is aided by the strong presence of Grammy-winning Danish bassist Mads Vinding and veteran drummer Peter Erskine - both of whom are stellar in adding contributions to the pianist's compositions. Erskine is more well-known perhaps for his big band work and fusion work with Weather Report, but here he displays a shimmering range of Motian-like sounds that sparkle like sunlight on snow. Some pieces (like the lovely and mysterious effervescent title track) float and hag like glistening snowflakes, whole others (like Stubborn) trudge through snowdrifts with determination to survive. Romance by the Fireplace meanwhile, playfully hints at a tango. At times pleasant, at times chilly and bleak, but throughout - an engaging winter journey.--Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net
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Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.