Steven Reid for Sea of Tranquility
Sometimes, well often if truth be told, reviewing a CD isn’t as straight forward as it seems. Take for example Grass Catching The Wind by Yelena Eckemoff for example. I’ve lived with this CD now for a good few weeks, going back to listen to it again and again, starting with different songs to change focus and changing the ambience of the situation that I do so, whether that be in a darkened room with headphones on, playing it at high volume from my hi-fi, sitting at the lap-top, or indeed while driving the car. Yet still I can’t get beyond appreciating that the musicianship on show is stunning and that the music evokes what is intended, but just doesn’t hold my attention. Style wise this album merges post-bop jazz with classical structures and Eckemoff does make a sterling job of bringing these two genres together in manner that smooth and natural.
Grass Catching The Wind continues the “seasons” theme that Eckemoff began with Cold Sun and as I mentioned, the songs on this album certainly bring images to mind that marry up with titles such as “Summer Heat,” “Anticipation Of Spring,”or “Harvest.” Undoubtedly that was the intention laid down by the three piece of Eckemoff on piano, Mads Vinding on double bass and [Morten Lund] on drums and on that level this album is a huge success. However with the songs almost meeting the full capacity of a CD (77:59 in this case), this is a journey that is just too meandering in form and execution to hold your interest for that length of time and when you consider that the themes are almost conceptual in style, makes for the odd conundrum that the songs also don’t necessarily shine when taken out of context. In truth this album would have benefitted from losing at least fifteen or so minutes.
Eckemoff herself is an amazingly deft and subtle musician who paints picture with her gentle, but firm piano work and with the backing she receives from Vinding and Lund, there’s no doubting that this is a trio who are completely locked together in musical space. Putting my finger on why that doesn’t result in an album that ever managed to completely captivate me is to be honest a tough task, but it never did. Possibly it is due to its length and the use of themes that are too similar throughout the whole album, although maybe that is inherent of trying to capture a “season” on a disc? If this musical style and genre are where your tastes reside then I have no hesitation in telling you that you will revel in much of the music laid bare here, for me the themes may be Spring, but too often Grass Catching The Wind left me rather cold.