Yelena Eckemoff - Adventures of a Wildflower
Pianist-composer Yelena Eckemoff unfurls her most elaborate and ambitious musical work yet with Adventures of the Wildflower, which her own L&H Production label will release on March 19, 2021. 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 the inspired work of Eckemoff and a Finnish ensemble that includes saxophonist Jukka Perko,multi-instrumentalist Jarmo Saari, vibraphonist Panu Savolainen, bassist Antti Lötjönen, and drummer-percussionist Olavi Louhivuori.
Having previously worked with Savolainen, Lötjönen and Louhivuori on her 2017 album, Blooming Tall Phlox (inspired by nature’s smells), she was eager to return to Helsinki to record with them again. That she did in summer of 2019 (before the onset of the pandemic), with the addition of two highly regarded Finns: guitarist Saari and saxophonist Jukka Perko, who took a relay baton from trumpeter Verneri Pohjola.
Long a conceptualist, Eckemoff has previously tended to craft albums of thematically linked but discrete pieces. Adventures of the Wildflower, however, functions as a single narrative. The flower—aptly named Columbine—undertakes a vivid journey, growing from baby to mature plant as she observes from her garden spot the whirl of nature and of life, plant and animal, around her. She even learns to communicate with her garden mates, a real phenomenon that inspired Eckemoff to create the album when she read about it in a magazine.
“I was intrigued to learn that plants communicate with each other through the air, by releasing odorous chemicals, and through the soil, by secreting soluble chemicals,” she says. “Such communal life sparked my imagination. I started to envision how a single plant would feel being part of such an interconnected community and how it would react to its neighbors who lived next to it. Soon I had a kernel of an idea about a wildflower.”
Eckemoff supplements her original music with an 18-part narrative poem (one part for each composition) that tells Columbine’s story. While nuanced, the narrative is built on an earnest simplicity, like a children’s story. The music, on the other hand, is much more complex. The multiple levels of melody in “Home by the Fence” or “Children Playing with Seed Pods” are sumptuous feasts for both the ear and the intellect, while pieces like “Chickens,” “Butterflies,” and “Another Winter” are filled with experimental, even psychedelic, textures.
Credit for these soundscapes must go as well to the musicians who work with Eckemoff. The sounds Saari conjures from his guitars, theremin, and glass harp lend the music a unique palette, augmented by the bold, unconventional playing of Perko, Savolainen, Lötjönen, and Louhivuori.
“They were fearless in approaching my extensive lead sheets,” the pianist affirms. In Adventures of the Wildflowerthat fearlessness has, like Columbine, blossomed into a splendid and very alive specimen of its own.Buy album
- Adventures of a Wildflower, 2021
- Nocturnal Animals, 2020
- Colors, 2019
- Better Than Gold and Silver, 2018
- Desert, 2018
- In the Shadow of a Cloud, 2017
- Bloming Tall Phlox, 2017
- Leaving Everything Behind, 2016
- Everblue, 2015
- Lions, 2015
- A Touch of Radiance, 2014
- Glass Song, 2013
- Forget-me-not, 2012
- Flying Steps, 2010
- Grass Catching the Wind, 2010
- Cold Sun, 2010
- Advocate of Love, 2008
- The Call, 2006