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Rachel Eckroth - One (self-released)

20 April 2023

If you’re a trainspotter for either jazz or rock credits, you’re likely to have come across Rachel Eckroth’s name. A former student of late jazz piano great Stanley Cowell, Eckroth has done everything from jazz fusion and minimalism to and outright rock. (St. Vincent fans would have spotted her in that band during the Roxy Music tour.) For the appropriately titled One, however, she drops all accouterments to simply sit down at her piano and play. Though she plucks a couple of tunes from previous albums and adds some choice covers, her main MO here is spontaneous composition. And we use that term deliberately, simply because of the way these tunes sound. “Minuscule,” “Orion,” and “Downstream, Upstream” may have been made up on the spot, but they sound composed, as if her musicianly brain works so fast that her fingers shape the melodies with a split second’s notice. Only “One Eyed Pete,” which sounds like a deliberate nod to Cecil Taylor, comes off as improvised, though even it has more structure than one might expect. That means a gorgeous meditation like “Light Sleeper” sits comfortably in the same bucket as the beautiful reading of Duke Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss.” If Eckroth is out to prove there’s little to nothing she can’t tackle musically, One is definitely exhibit A.