Rachel Eckroth’s ‘Humanoid’ Live Album out June 28th Featuring Billy Mohler on Bass

To celebrate each release, Qobuz and Sam First will also be partnering for special release shows at Sam First Jazz Club

Rachel Eckroth’s ‘Humanoid’ Live Album out June 28th Featuring Billy Mohler on Bass

To celebrate each release, Qobuz and Sam First will also be partnering for special release shows at Sam First Jazz Club

Qobuz, the music lovers’ high-quality music streaming and download platform, is partnering with Los Angeles’s Sam First Jazz Club and its new home for high-fidelity recordings of select live performances, Sam First Records, for a series of exclusive live digital albums. The next release in the series will be a digital release of GRAMMY-nominated keyboardist and singer-songwriter Rachel Eckroth’s live album Humanoid on June 28th.

Humanoid, which was recorded live at Sam First, features guitarist Andrew Renfroe, bassist Billy Mohler, and drummer Tina Raymond.

“Humanoid is a departure for me,” Rachel Eckroth said (in the album liner notes written by Sharonne Cohen) about her new piano quartet album, recorded at Sam First jazz club in Los Angeles. “I’ve done so many records or projects where I’m playing keyboards, synths, weird sounds, electronics, even singing,” she says. “This record is a departure. It’s back to jazz, back to acoustic. And so it’s more human…. just piano. And for the most part, acoustic instruments.”

To celebrate each release in the series, Qobuz and Sam First will also be partnering for special release shows at Sam First Jazz Club, which will offer free virtual admission exclusively for Qobuz users.

Eckroth’s digital release show for Humanoid will be June 29th – tickets HERE (Rachel Eckroth Trio with Billy Mohler & Jonathan Pinson)

Eckroth’s first live recording, Humanoid, features bassist Billy Mohler and drummer Tina Raymond, both artists she has enjoyed playing with in the past, and guitarist Andrew Renfroe, who she, as a pianist, finds “the perfect guitarist to play with.” Eckroth found her collaborators “willing to be very open, on the spot, willing to try new things on the fly, and making it sound good at the same time.” Clearly a group of like-minded musicians, “nobody is too caught up in the music, or in their ways.” And the expansive tracks, all hovering around the 8-minute mark, offer much room for extended creative exploration.

The title track, written specifically for this album, reflects Eckroth’s desire to slow down and streamline. “I started off as a pianist, and I just put out a solo piano record. I’m in this world right now. I studied piano for a long time before I really got into keyboards and writing songs, and all the other stuff that happened in the last 15 years. I think this project is just a way to simplify my life a little bit, simplify the projects that I’m doing and the way I’m thinking about music, and maybe going a little slower.”

The album’s eight pieces – both originals and compositions by jazz luminaries – were chosen because they would do just that: lend themselves to a sense of openness, to the freedom and space to change up the groove, the feel and the sound. Not wanting to “over-arrange or over-compose or over- anything,” Eckroth aspired “to collaborate live, and there’s something that happens when you’re in a group like this, where everybody’s open to any direction, especially if it’s a live performance and people are really listening and in tune with each other. The club is a great environment, and they get a great sound and people are there to hear you. There’s something that happens in those moments that is just magic.”

All this is evident from the cinematic, mysterious and whimsical title track opening the album: the intimacy of the club, the attentiveness of the audience, and the openness and synergy of the band. An original composition, “Humanoid” also highlights Eckroth’s strong chemistry with Renfroe, illustrating her experience “matching up on different tones and places and spaces.” Eckroth’s other originals – the moody, angular “Under A Fig Tree,” the adventurous “Vines” (both originally appearing on The Garden) and the propulsive “Mind” further reveal her compositional strengths.

Another captivating chapter in Eckroth’s ever-evolving sound, this album comes on the heels of her Grammy-nominated, synth-forward The Garden (Rainy Day Records, 2021) and stunning solo piano improvisation album One, released earlier this year. It is a showcase not only of her skill and singularity as a player and improvisor, but her strengths as a bandleader and composer.

Taking her first piano lesson at the age of five, this accomplished, multifaceted musician has honed her craft over the four decades since, becoming not only a gifted and versatile pianist and keyboardist, but a vocalist and songwriter. Engaged in creative projects spanning jazz, indie and pop, she has played with artists ranging from Chris Botti to St. Vincent, Rufus Wainwright and KT Tunstall. Her collaborators have included Donny McCaslin, Tia Fuller, Tim Lefebvre and David Garza.

“Humanoid is more simply focused on the songs and what we could pull from them, rather than what we could add to them,” Eckroth says. “In a way I’m going back to my roots but taking everything that I’ve learned along the way and putting it in there. Now it’s this new thing. . . I think it’s definitely a great performance, and I think it’s some of the best straight-ahead playing I’ve done.”

For more information on Rachel Eckroth, please visit:www.racheleckroth.com | Instagram | Facebook

Bass Magazine   By: Bass Magazine