Album art courtesy of the artist.
Eden Ladin, one of the busiest pianists on the New York scene, has built a deep community for himself in city over the past eight years. When we spoke for the interview, he was running from a rehearsal to a Rosh Hashanah dinner with Omer Avital and his family. Between world tours and recording sessions, Ladin found the time to lead and record his first album. Called Yequm, meaning “universe” in Hebrew, the work encapsulates the spark of Ladin’s vivid imagination as a composer. With narrative imagery and heavy musicianship, Yequm is a personal and fantastical musical tale.
The album features Dayna Stephens (tenor sax and EWI), John Ellis (tenor and soprano saxes), Gilad Hekselman (guitars), Harish Raghavan (bass), Daniel Dor (drums), Camila Meza (voice), and Yonatan Albalak (guitar). Ladin will premiere the album at The Jazz Gallery with the much of the same personnel. We discussed the process of recording the album, the ways being a bandleader has changed his work as a sideman, and the lessons he’ll carry with him to the next project.
The Jazz Gallery: I’ve been enjoying listening to the album! It’s been years in the making; What has been the most rewarding part of watching this album come to life?
Eden Ladin: So many things. I’ve been wanting to do this album for about seven years. But I didn’t have money, I was busy being a sideman, I was at The New School. So, I didn’t have time. One day, I found out that my apartment was rent stabilized, and sued my landlord, which ended in my favor. Right after that, I got called for some long tours with the bassist Avishai Cohen. So after these two things, I had a little money, and it was the perfect time to make the record. But it was a long process. One of my favorite things about that process was the cover. I found this artist from Berlin, Rahel Süßkind, and really fell in love with her style. I contacted her, and she really liked the record. She made the cover as I narrated and art-directed her work.
TJG: I was about to ask about it. The album cover is fascinating, showing these different worlds intersecting, technological, geographical, fantastical, childish, accessible. Can you tell me a little about it?
EL: It’s actually based on the tracks, on each of the songs. “Smell / Faded Memory” is the ‘nose world’ on the upper right, for example. “Lonely Arcade Man” has that digital thing in the lower right. They’re all linked to the stories on the album.
TJG: I was about to ask about those two tracks, too. On track one, “Lonely Arcade Man,” you have this open, electronic, spacious, melodic feel. Then on track two, “Smell / Faded Memory,” you launch into this acoustic world of splashy cymbals, block chords, double bass, soprano saxophone. A big narrative jump, right at the beginning. Did you spend a lot of time ordering the tunes and building a structure?
EL: Yup, yup. I did spend a lot of time with the track order. This track order, the most recent one, was actually done by Gilad Hekselman.
TJG: How did that come about?
EL: I came to his place, we were hanging out, just listening. In my shows, I like to have a lot of differences in the setlist. I love contrast. This order works for me. Chill, dreamy, spacey, then active and engaged, back and forth. Keeps the listener on their toes. The extreme changes in the vibe really drew me. The first track is sad, the second is intense and jazzy, the third is mysterious, I really change it up from track to track.