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Rachel Eckroth

A jazz pianist, singer, composer, and arranger based in New York City, Rachel Eckroth's eclectic output spans artful pop, jazz standards, and exploratory instrumental composition. After releasing a collegiate solo debut in 2005, she explored testy adult alternative pop on albums like 2018's When It Falls. The Tim Lefebvre collaboration The Blackbird Sessions, Vol. 1 (2021) concentrated on jazz standards, and she collected a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for The Garden (2021), a small-ensemble jazz effort that saw her joined by Lefebvre, Donny McCaslin, and others. In the meantime, she was member of the house band for TV's The Meredith Vieira Show and played for artists spanning Rufus Wainwright, St. Vincent, and Chris Botti. Eckroth went solo for the 2023 piano album One, which reflected a more restrained, classical-influenced approach. Rachel Eckroth was born in Mandan, North Dakota and raised in the Phoenix, Arizona area by parents who were both musicians. Her brother, Michael Eckroth, is also a pianist. She recorded with the U.N.L.V. Jazz Ensemble during her time as a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and she remained in the area after graduating with a degree in jazz performance to work as a side instrumentalist. She eventually went east to earn a Master of Fine Arts in jazz performance from Rutgers University, which she completed in 2005. That year, she self-released her solo debut album, MIND. It was recorded with bassist Kevin Thomas and drummer Chris Benham. Eckroth played various keyboard instruments on albums by the likes of Danielle Evin and Marion Meadows before releasing a duo album, Louder Than Words, with saxophonist Arun Luthra in 2009. Eckroth pursued something closer to a singer/songwriter route on April 2014's still jazz-injected Let Go (Virgo Sun Records). Recorded in sessions in Brooklyn, New York and Scottsdale, Arizona with a variety of sidemen on drums, horns, strings, and more, and with Eckroth on vocals and a plethora of keyboard instruments including synthesizer, it was produced mostly by Eckroth herself, with tracks by Myles David Lancette, Jesse Fischer, or Chris Parrello. Later that year, Eckroth joined the house band of ABC's The Meredith Vieira Show as keyboardist. After the show's second and final season came to a close in 2016, she joined singer/songwriter KT Tunstall's touring band. A stint with trumpeter Chris Botti followed in 2017. Her next solo outing, When It Falls, was a more dedicated -- sometimes even rock-leaning -- adult alternative album. It arrived on Virgo Sun in September 2018 with a guest list that included bassist Tim Lefebvre, drummer Matt Chamberlain, and guitarists Doyle Bramhall II and Derek Trucks. Eckroth and Lefebvre married before the end of the year, and Eckroth opened Rufus Wainwright's All These Poses Anniversary Tour in 2019, performing alone with just her keyboard and voice. In January 2021, Eckroth and Lefebvre collaborated on the mini-album The Blackbird Sessions, Vol. 1, on which they covered standards such as "Body and Soul" and "Mood Indigo." In May, a solo Eckroth issued a self-titled EP consisting of four adult pop songs of her own. That September, she returned to adventurous jazz with The Garden. Featuring Lefebvre on bass and guitar, Donny McCaslin on saxophone, and Christian Euman on drums, among a handful of other guests, it went on to receive a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Before 2021 was over, singer/songwriter Aimee Mann released her Queens of the Summer Hotel LP, featuring piano by Eckroth. Eckroth appeared on albums by Gaby Moreno and Nabate Isles and backed St. Vincent on tour before returning with One, a solo piano album, in April of 2023. It was a more reflective release rooted in but not bound to classical tradition.
© Marcy Donelson /TiVo


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