Comparable to the rare and valuable likes of a first edition book worth treasuring, Yelena Eckemoff‘s Romance of the Moon is no small achievement. The keyboardist/composer creates music as vivid as the images in her own paintings that adorn the inside and out of the CD package, all of which graphics (as well as those in the enclosed booklet) appear in a glossy finish.

And that corresponds to the polish of the production of a baker’s dozen compositions inspired by the poems of Federico Garcia Lorca (included in the aforementioned twenty-eight-page insert). Played by a quartet of Italian musicians, the pinpoint musicianship on “Bells,” for instance, reflects the detail in the arrangements for horns, electric guitar, double bass and drums. From this fairly finite instrumental palette, the fivesome—with the Russian-born bandleader on piano and keyboards—intelligently utilizes light and dark plus variable shading on cuts like “Barren Orange Tree.”

Never rushed but with not an iota of hesitation either, the collective playing exudes the expectant air of collective improvisational sense(s). At the same time, a spacious air emanates from these 2023 recordings engineered by Carlo Cantini, an atmosphere amplified by the mixing and mastering of Stefano Amerio: the intuitive transitions between instruments become readily audible. Nearly as tangible is the momentum the quintet generates throughout individual tracks, this despite the prevalent slow-to-mid tempo at which they are rendered.

None exceed ten minutes, proceeding at a continuously slow to mid-tempo pace. Nonetheless, as with “Ballad of the Sea Water,” six-plus minutes duration sound as full and complete as the longest track here, the title song, which runs just over nine minutes. A dramatic sense of finality arises around the portentously named “Moments.” At this point, it’s impossible not to sense that, even without looking at the track sequence on the back cover of the digipak, the album is heading into its home stretch.

Terse instrumental exposition on the part of all involved precludes lack of direction or purpose on Romance of the Moon. On a selection like “Thirsty For New Songs,” the common sonic timbres of the instruments overlap, thus solidifying the continuity of the compositions, performances and arrangements. The effect is no less in the lower registers of Luca Bulgarelli’s double bass and Stefano Bagnoli‘s drums—the team is as unobtrusive as it is steady—than the liquid lines of Riccardo Bertuzzi‘s fretboard activity on, most conspicuously, “Old Lizard.”

The sensation of listening on “Guitar” is less akin to being in the same room as the band, than simply becoming immersed within the sounds created by the players’ interactions. And while “About Cats” may give a listener pause, based on its title, any tentative reaction fades as Paolo Fresu‘s horn lines entwine with the strings of notes Eckemoff elicits from the ivories.

A veritable renaissance artist of contemporary jazz, Yelena Eckemoff redefines the phrase ‘complete package’ with Romance of the Moon, right down to using virtually the entirety of compact disc capacity in seventy-nine plus minutes playing time. Perhaps equally importantly, she simultaneously returns truth to that descriptive verbiage so that it resonates very much like the musicianship at the core of this project.