What a beautiful, inspired work! I had listened to individual pieces before, but listening start to finish adds so much. The interplay among the band is so intuitive.
Adventures of the Wildflower
…reverential tone-textures pervade this eloquent, multi layered music. You hear this almost immediately in the ethereal beauty of the Theremin played by Jarmo Saari, which heralds the start of the cycle of life in the very first song on disc one – “In the Ground”. Miss Eckemoff then leads the rest of the ensemble with the elegance of her piano playing, for which she is renowned, and we are subsumed by the musical topography of a natural landscape that mixes beauty with danger… Whether evocative of the rustle off spring, the steamy hiss of summer, long rainy days and the elemental and visceral vortices of nature in all its glory, each track takes us into a plethora of some wild situations and places – full of darkness and light – with trusted and inspiring musical friends.
This sextet radiates an implicit but abiding sense of mutual trust in their shared imagination. ..Eighteen tracks here, ranging in length from around five minutes to nine plus, blend into a perfectly cohesive whole.
Pianist Yelena Eckemoff‘s best work is typically her quietest material. Over the years, she’s explored a wide range of sounds, but where she really stands out is with her slow, wintry, often Messiaen-esque tunes. Yet her lavish new double album Adventures of the Wildflower – streaming at Spotify – is her most colorful and arguably best release yet. ..The music here is as fascinatingly diverse as the floral kingdom itself. This is a LONG album: hang with it and you will be rewarded.
While beautifully melodic, the harmonic variations, dissonant passages and rhythmic changes are fully contemporary. The effect in all cases, however, is to make you smile or recognise the intent of what are lovely tone poems. The tangible truth here is that these compositions and the skill with which they are presented show a real love of the concept and the theme. Eckemoff has developed into a major compositional force in the jazz world as well as bringing exceptional pianistic skill. This is a beautiful release.
What better gift to receive — having made it through what appears to be the worst of our ongoing, and horribly destructive, global pandemic — than a gift borne of the very opposite of such physical destruction, namely, that of spiritual creation? Yelena Eckemoff’s latest, thoroughly multimedia album is just exactly what the doctor ordered… […]
Multi-dimensional arrangements are juxtaposed with relaxed, very soothing moments. The life of the Columbine set to music is exotic and so the Yelena Eckemoff jazz can also unfold its effect.Two hours of fascinating jazz is supplemented by a particularly thick booklet in which the story of the flower was put into poetic words. So you can not only appreciate outstanding music, but also devote yourself to beautiful texts.
Adventures Of The Wildflower serves to underline the breadth and depth of Eckemoff’s reverie-rich sensibilities, her unerringly organic, even shape-shifting sense of now fluid, now cleanly delineated motivic form and dynamics… Music to make one feel and wonder, think and dream – and smile.
The recordings were made in Helsinki in the summer of 2019 and are filled with vibrant, lively music that features experimental and psychedelic textures, as well as modern jazz structures.
Yelena creates wonderful music, stories and paintings taking us on a journey through the seasons of everyday life, nature, family, all creatures great and small, with all her close observations to inspire, a true prolific jazz musician and composer….I feel enlightened.
The interplay between Yelena and her band is, as always, just top-notch. Her ability to connect with players of like minds and styles is uncanny. While one or two are at the fore, someone is always busy in the background with all sorts of intricacies. The vibraphonist (Panu Savolainen) puts forth his expertise steadily throughout the record, as does the reeds player (Jukka Perko). The often background, but steady and fascinating playing by guitarist (Jarmo Saari) keeps your ears glued to music. And as always the rhythmic core of bassist (Antili Lotjonen) and brilliant drummer (Olavi Louhivuori) keep things pushing forward with panache, elan and with perfect cohesion and force…Another brilliant showing by Yelena and Co., destined to be one of the most significant albums of 2021.
…It is a beautiful, rich, exciting and deeply narrative jazz music, where even the most discerning jazzophile can find many delicacies. Including solo choruses, beautiful motifs and echoes of folk melody or a wide Russian heart (it literally beats in the song Children Playing With Seed Pods).
Eckemoff creates a sometimes demanding, and often subliminal soundtrack for the home garden. One has to get submerged in the” Adventures of the Wildflower” in order to really understand them. However, one or the other among the gardeners might well feel called to do so, to have a bit of musical variety when weeding and sowing their own green spaces. And maybe flowers of Columbine will soon bloom in new gardens.
It is the story of a small garden world, with mice-hunting dogs, talking herbs, chickens, butterflies, hummingbirds and not always benevolent people, which she tells in the booklet in 18 parts and which reads like a touching children’s story. Her five-piece Finnish ensemble, some of who were already part of the previous album, delivers the best fitting music for this occasion.
Everything Yelena does starts and ends with nature, and a life lived easily within its rhythms, in awareness of the miraculous in the everyday. Her music is always kind, gentle, seldom resorting to strident crescendos. There is also humour, wisdom and despite these qualities an earthiness that avoids merely pretty escapism. A thing I admire is despite the predominately spacious feel, and the subtle interplay between musicians it encourages, she doesn’t fall into what I call ‘the ECM trap’ of just making moods with pretty noises soaked in reverb. Music is always central, the momentum of notes and chords coming and going, telling stories. When there is improvisation it is never about testosterone fuelled pyrotechnics or racing to beat one’s own or anyone else’s personal bests. Improvisation is always a means of extending the meaning of the composition. Of making sure the next note or chord is the most interesting, however long it takes to find it. Her ability to find other musicians who stay within the discipline of this aesthetic is itself remarkable.
The Russian jazz pianist Yelena Eckemoff has already impressed me in the past with some outstanding releases. In this category also falls her ambitious latest recording, in which jazz music intermingles with the plant world and especially with the wildflower. She is accompanied on the conceptual work, which lasts more than two hours, by a five-piece Finnish accompanying ensemble.
This is a damn well-recorded CD! Amazing production and terribly good sound! The music is a bit different from previous CDs but the compositions are great, very sophisticated jazz. Amazing scene: every instrument in a wide scene has its place!
…Two disc set of music that is set to “stories” not unlike ones in children’s books to accompany the musical moods.
…Two cd’s overflowing with unique compositions and inspired and intuitive performances by Yelena and a fine cast of Finnish artists.
The newest release is themed based on botany/ plants as shown on her cover art. She’s focused on natural plants and flowers and expressed the vitality of plants life and their communication. The recording was made in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, with some of the best local players. 18 songs in a 2-disc set were recorded, and the titles of the songs seem to be tied with the perspective of plants and their relationship, and it is interesting to listen to each song and enjoy the sound thinking of the plants.
La Eckemoff fa un uso abile di questi talenti, assegnando con cura ogni ruolo sonoro. Il theremin solo offre il tema malinconico di “In The Ground”, il brano di apertura dell’album. Il sassofono è presente nella melodia sparpagliata di “Chickens”, vibrazioni sulle sonorità cupe del folk “Dying”. Il Theremin ritorna a quel tema iniziale – sostenuto dall’esuberante sestetto questa volta – in “Baby Columbines”, la traccia finale.
Gorgeous new album from the wonderful Yelena Eckemoff… accessible yet formally innovative, meticulously through-composed while leaving room for improvisation, employing a unique melange of instrumentation including theremin and glass harp, her enchanting music is in a class by itself…
Yelena Eckemoff uses a rich palette of different colors and means to paint an interesting and multicolored picture. All elements of this work harmonize with each other in the right proportions: melodious themes, rich rhythmic sphere, refined harmony, interesting and daring solo parts, space, dynamics and coherent ensemble sound.
Unusual music. Complex but interesting. Sometimes it’s just magical.
The whole “Adventures of the Wildflower” carries all the virtues of Yelena Eckemoff’s earlier productions. Great, sophisticated compositions, excellent instrumentalists and the ability to hold the listener’s attention throughout the finally long, two-hour album. To continue the title metaphor: on this album, just like in a garden, every now and then we discover something interesting, surprising, beautiful. Almost at every moment we can expect a new impulse for our imagination. For Yelena Eckemoff’s albums can best be described as a play of imagination. Stories painted by the composer’s artistic brilliance juxtaposed with the imaginations of the enchanted listener, who gets to know her work. It is difficult not to succumb to the charm of this and the artist’s other records. They are simply beautiful. In every inch. True works of art.
… Ah, that is always associated with great anticipation when a new release of the Moscow-born pianist and composer Yelena Eckemoff is announced… every single song lives its own life, there are always nuances, rhythm changes, swinging elements thrown in, shares of fusion, which demand to be attentive and the wonderful wide-ranging performance style encourages to surrender to the pleasure…
…Perhaps a little romantic, but nice to listen to, despite refined arrangements and long excursions of the instrumentalists.
While Eckemoff brings a clearly defined vision to Adventures of the Wildflower, she’s also receptive to the tone colours and textures her accompanists make available. ..The release complements the others in her discography, yet it also differentiates itself from them in its greater textural emphasis. There’s an explorative openness in these performances that suggests the pianist loosened the reins more than usual to allow her partners to boldly venture past notation. Being wholly instrumental, the pieces can be enjoyed on purely musical grounds or tied to their titles for a visual correlate.
Russian pianist, classical training, came to US in 1991 and switched to jazz, has a substantial catalogue since 2010, original compositions, last two albums doubles. She recorded this one in Finland with local musicians, trio plus spots for guitar, sax, and/or vibes.
The eighteen Eckemoff compositions here are some of her most abstract and sometimes asymmetrical (but beautiful) offerings—consider the Columbine flower that boasts a delicate and lovely symmetry; the wild plant from which it blossoms that does not. Taken as a whole, the two disc, two hour set creates intricately placid, mysterious and modernistically spiritual feeling—a chamber jazz from a mid-twenty first century church. It is sometimes playful, and could, at times, fit into the “exotica” category of sounds…
Eckemoff delivers the good stuff here via three modes of self-expression: perfectly titrated music, smooth narrative poetry and charming impressionistic oil paintings. She consolidates these three efforts in one polished package comprising two discs and a thick, illustrated booklet—a rare presentation for an independent artist these days. “I want to emphasize that physical objects are not lost,” she explained. “We still want to read from pages—and it’s still important to have an album with a concept and [a full range] of expression.” …Despite the program’s differing moods, each segment transitions easily to the next. The listener doesn’t need the poems or paintings to understand the thrust of this unfolding musical drama, but these complementary media enhance the music—and reveal just how profoundly Eckemoff immerses herself in the reality of her creations.
This music, rich in representation, is magical and Eckemoff and company blossom right along with it.
The music is obviously full of colors, of fascinating melodies, of more complex moments and others in which the music stretches towards an engaging lyricism. Sometimes it seems, thanks to Jarmo Saari’s unusual tools, to be in a psychedelic environment. It is a long album, but as soon as you get involved in the sounds and tales of the musicians everything flows quickly, of a disconcerting beauty.
Pianist-composer Yelena Eckemoff deploys her most elaborate but also her most ambitious musical work with Adventures of the Wildflower, which will be released on March 19, 2021. As its title suggests, this double album is the story of a life, from birth to death (and rebirth), of an anthropomorphic columbine flower. Its story is told through the […]
New work by American pianist, composer, artist and poet of Russian origin Yelena Eckemoff is 2-CD album “Adventures of The Wildflower” recorded in Helsinki, Finland in 2019. Listeners are already got used to the fact that albums of this remarkable and unique musician, released through her own imprint L&H Production, have prominent world jazz musicians […]
Pianist-composer Yelena Eckemoff will release her most elaborate and ambitious musical work yet with ‘Adventures of the Wildflower’, on 19 March on the label L&H Productions. As its title suggests, the double album is the story of a life, from birth to death (and rebirth), of an anthropomorphic columbine flower. Its story is told through […]
…This impressionistic double cd is long on art but Eckemoff never goes art chick on us. ..Quite the fascinating concept and execution, this shows us that it was time for a new take on “Peter and the Wolf.” A gentle and stylish work, she’s accompanied here by a Finnish instrumental crew that doesn’t fit the ECM format but is well deserving of a break out of their own. Well done throughout.
Yelena Eckemoff’s new, two-disc recording takes some getting used to, takes some time to get through, and takes a different, intensive/extensive approach to the jazz/classical curriculum, broadening the spectrum of an immersive, concept album that refuses to skim the surface. One that might try most listeners’ patience, most of whom would simply walk on by for another round of Billboard’s Top 40 — dumbed-down, mantra-spouting eye candy. But stay awhile. Take a seat, relax, sip some Earl Grey, and look, really look at the world within worlds, where we are not so different from Columbine and her earthly friends.
Jazz Medium digs a little deeper into Eckemoff’s train of thought in this, perhaps her most ambitious, thoughtful effort to connect us with nature, and each other, as the world deals with the aftermath of an unprecedented, isolating, scary pandemic. Look for a review of her new album soon.