5.0 out of 5 stars

Title: Another Must-Have by Yelena Eckemoff

Once again, with her album ‘Desert’, Yelena Eckemoff strikes a chord, or a number of them in fact. As her artistry typically mandates she has a through line here, which in this case is nicely apparent from the very title. Along with steady sidemen Peter Erskine on drums and percussion and Arild Andersen thrumming the double bass, Yelena engages the exotic euphony of Oregon co-founder Paul McCandless on oboe, English horn, soprano sax and bass clarinet.

My first and immediate reaction when I started the disc with the first track, “Bedouins” was to both see and feel myself in the open market of the agora as the snake charmer performs his magic, the awe of which envelops us as McCandless’ soprano sax wraps around us in flowing waves. The record continues on with the mystery of “Condor”, the sonic flight weaving in, out, upward and across. One can almost see the blanche of the white sand in “Colors of Nothingness”, though the musical palette is anything but stark. The magic of discovery is ever present as Arild Andersen walks us through the “Garden of Eden” on his double bass, nudging us toward the final walk through “Sands” as the album closes on a contemplative note.

As a fan dating back to Ms. Eckemoff’s early trio dates I have enjoyed listening to her steady progression as an artist, with each recording showcasing not just another facet of her diversity, but another layer of her incredible depth. Yelena is a seriously talented artist conceptually, compositionally and mechanically. As with each release before this one, I can only anxiously wonder what’s next? A must have.