Yelena Eckemoff is one of the most interesting composers currently, with a classical background, her universe is jazz, but always with a deep intellectual reasoning. Here she presents a suite of compositions inspired by the great Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, as interpreted by the exceptional Italian ensemble including double bassist Luca Bulgarelli, drummer Stefano Bagnoli, guitarist Riccardo Bertuzzi, and world-renowned trumpet icon Paolo Fresu. Here’s Garcia Lorca’s poem to immerse you in this highly poetic and romantic music:

Romance Of The Moon (Moon Romance, Moon) – Federico García Lorca

The moon came to the forge
with its tuberose bustle.
The boy looks at her.
The boy is looking at her.
in the shaken air
the moon moves its arms
and teaches, lubricious and pure,
her breasts of hard tin.
Run away moon, moon, moon.
If the gypsies came
they would do with your heart
white necklaces and rings.
Boy, let me dance.
When the gypsies come
they will find you on the anvil
with eyes closed.

Run away moon, moon, moon,
I already feel their horses.
Boy, leave me, don’t step
my starched white.

the horseman approached
playing the drum of the plain
Inside the forge the child,
his eyes are closed.

Through the olive grove they came,
bronze and dream, the gypsies.
heads up
and narrowed eyes.

How the zumaya sings,
oh how he sings in the tree!
The moon goes through the sky
with a child by the hand.

Inside the forge they cry,
screaming, the gypsies.
The air watches over her, watches over her.
The air is veiling her.

The composer went so far as to translate the texts into Italian so that her musicians “understand exactly what each composition is about,” she says. “It was so important for them to know exactly what the poem says. They are instrumentals, but the music always corresponds to the poems.” She translated them again into English for the audience’s reference. This means that Yelena’s choices are driven by her passion for art; the selection of the accompanying musicians stems from the same consideration, bringing some of the finest Italian artists on board for this project, showing how this creation is intended to be European, for a perfect understanding and sensitivity corresponding to her approach.

I dare not imagine what a production would be like if Yelena Eckemoff were to work with our friend, master guitarist Juan Carmona, on a project further exploring Lorca’s work. Because listening to this project, “Romance of The Moon,” we feel it’s a starting point, a new form of writing. Although based on poetry, Romance of the Moon still has a dramatic scope. This is evident in individual tracks, such as Fresu’s tense and suspenseful trumpet line on “Barren Orange Tree” and Bertuzzi’s carefully developed guitar solo on “Old Lizard,” and throughout the album, transitioning from the thoughtful opener “Bells” to the dark apex of the title track, then to the evocative and satisfying resolution of “August.” Like Lorca and other great poets, Eckemoff fully understands the importance of form, both macro and micro.

I also appreciate these words from the composer: “In jazz, the project is only finished when it’s recorded with jazz musicians,” she explains. “I design each project to allow them to express themselves.” This is what makes each of Yelena’s albums so unique, when art meets the beauty of expression, or perhaps it’s the other way around. This album is indeed “Indispensable” because of the beauty of its composition and performance, or perhaps it’s the other way around; I’ll let you decide.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, April 28th 2024