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Yelena Eckemoff Quintet: A Touch of Radiance

Proof that Russian pianist Yelena Eckemoff is an extraordinary composer is evident from the phenomenal musicians she was able to recruit for her first-ever collection of original music for quintet. The august rhythm tandem of drummer Billy Hart and bassist George Mraz is at once piquant and complementary. What Joe Locke spools out on vibes has the tensile strength and gossamer shimmer of a spider’s web. And Mark Turner is among the most lyrical tenor saxophonists to come to prominence in the last 20 years.

This sublime cast gilds the dovetailing geometry and clean aesthetics of Eckemoff’s compositions. Despite their interior intricacy, the 10 pieces flow with smooth economy, clearly favoring through-composition to jazz improvisation (ironically, Hart seems the most adventurous band member). And although the titles connote new-age ethereality, and each song is accompanied by prose in the liner notes relating to an aspect of Eckemoff’s biography, nothing in the music feels overly precious. On the contrary, her crisp, lilting phrases and imaginative counterpoint could use more discrepancy to help distinguish

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