Russian classical pianist and composer Yelena Eckemoff infuses more of her modern sense of jazz on yet another winning, personal reflection, set to music and art — all hers. Blooming Tall Phlox is what she most remembers and cherishes of her childhood with loving grandparents back in her homeland of Russia, before the conflicts that were beyond her and before the heartbreaking separation of her family during the time she and her husband left for the U.S. to make a better life. Scheduled for release Jan. 20, 2017 on her L&H Production, the two-part double-album is the prolific artist’s 10th jazz venture.
“I had the idea of writing music about smell for some time before I met with [drummer] Olavi [Louhivuori] in Finland,” Eckemoff explained in a DL Media release. “The idea came into focus when I saw how much Finland reminded me of Russia; it became obvious to me that it would be the best place to record an album about various aromas. I brought 15 songs to the session, already named and designed to express certain smells. Writing the poetry came later, even though I nurtured my ideas along with the music. Then I had to select a title for the album, but as I was writing my poems, it became clear that there is one smell that triggers my childhood memories: the smell of the phlox. So I decided to paint a picture of myself in my grandparent’s garden, sniffing the phlox, based on a black and white photograph from the time.”
Eckemoff tries to capture all of the senses through her music, artwork, and poetry, even the smell of the phlox, “Apples Laid Out On The Floor,” “Wildflower Meadows,” and “Old Fashioned Bread Store.”
She goes to some pretty crazy places to get her points across. “Talks Over Hot Tea” nearly replicates the sound of the tea kettle on the boil in the tension and release of the horns toward the end.
The horns figure heavily in the sense-memory of the music, which pushes the edgy in her take on modern jazz.
She switched up the personnel somewhat by employing young, talented musicians from Finland, musicians able to read and improvise when needed: trumpeter Verneri Pohjola, drummer Olavi Louhivuori, vibraphonist Panu Savolainen, and double bassist Antti Lötjönen.