By Jon Ross | Published April 2017
On Blooming Tall Phlox, an evocative and slow-burning album that mixes jazz and classical music with an experimental bent, composer and pianist Yelena Eckemoff paints programmatic audio pictures with her layered, rich compositions. From the first tune, it’s apparent that isn’t an album for casual listening. On tunes like the title track and “Fish Fried On Open Fire,” Eckemoff weaves her spiky piano playing through luscious soundscapes that stand in for memories of her childhood in Russia.
Writing about her past is nothing new to Eckemoff, who loaded 2016’s Leaving Everything Behind with songs about emigrating from Russia to North Carolina. Continuing that personal touch with Blooming Tall Phlox, Eckemoff has created tunes that display her passion for the subject matter. Now a tune like “Fish Fried On Open Fire” can’t replicate the smell and feeling of that particular memory, but drummer Olavi Louhivuori creates sizzles and pops with his drums while Verneri Pohjola produces a silky, dreamy melody from his trumpet.
Blooming Tall Phlox: Blooming Tall Phlox; Apples Laid Out On The Floor; Baba Lisa’s Singer; Old-Fashioned Bread Store; Wildflower Meadows; Fish Fried On Open Fire; Sleeping In The Tent; Pine Needles Warmed By The Sun; Smoke From The House Chimneys In Frosty Air; Talks Over Hot Tea; Grandpa Lera’s Bookcase; Clementines And Candies On Christmas Tree; Mommy’s Shawl; Aunt Galya’s Perfume; Scented Candles And Sparkling Wine. (60:38)
Personnel: Yelena Eckemoff, piano; Olavi Louhivuori, drums; Verneri Pohjola, trumpet; Antti Lötjönen, bass; Panu Savolainen, vibraphone.