Moscow-born, classically trained pianist Yelena Eckemoff displays multiple and multimedia talents on this double-disc release: she composed all the music, wrote poems, reprinted in the accompanying booklet, corresponding to each of the 14 tracks, and created the painting that features on the album cover.

Fulfilling the promise of the collection’s title, the music – and the poems, and that painting- evoke the world of lions. The project was inspired by Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen telling Eckemoff that he had ordered a double bass with a lion’s head carved into its neck; her imagination took fire, although her piano parts here follow a more composed-sounding course and often take a back seat to the improvisatory flourishes of her collaborators, Andersen and US drummer Billy Hart. It’s a charming, smartly executed suite of music, strong on atmospheric scene-setting and shimmering, impressionistic detail, with plenty of beguiling melodic material, though a little more variety in terms of tempo would have been nice.

Robert Shore for Jazzwise