“Part of our human consciousness constantly searches and yearns for the divine, unspeakably beautiful, eternal,” Russian born pianist/poet Yelena Eckemoff explains the significance of the title of her latest album. “In my world, I call this place Everblue.” And Everblue is what she calls this quartet collaboration with a trio of some of the most talented musicians Norway has to offer. Tore Brunborg plays tenor and soprano sax. Arild Anderson handles the double bass and Jon Christensen the drums. Together the ensemble works their magic on a program of 10 original compositions, two by Andersen and the rest by Eckemoff.
Eckemoff, trained in both classical music and jazz, puts all her training to good use. She recognizes that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Her solo passages are intense and elegant, but she knows when to sit back and let the others take the stage. The interaction is solid. And although this is her first gig with Brunborg and Christensen, they play off of each other as though they have been playing together for years.
The mood creating music—sometimes melodious and programmatic, sometimes experimentally adventurous—documents the human search for the divine: a search supplemented and defined by 10 Eckemoff poems included with the album. In “Everblue,” the speaker awakes stunned by the “magical light of azure skies and cobalt ocean” and concludes she is “a voluntary prisoner of The Everblue.” It is the poetic extension of the kind of mystical experience painted in her music. “All Things, Seen and Unseen,” featuring some classical piano phrasing behind the tenor sax perhaps to represent the “seen” and the “unseen.” the darker tones of “Abyss” would seem to be other examples of the way the music and the poems complement each other as artistic expressions of the concept that underlies the album.
It may be a bit too much to see all the individual tracks as parts of a coherent whole since Andersen’s two pieces, ”Prism” and “Man,” were written earlier and in another context, nonetheless it is arguable that they are neatly appropriate. After all, in the poem written for “Prism” Eckemoff writes that “the Prism shows me the world in a blue spectrum,” while the young man on the beach in “Man” has “curly hair and sky-blue eyes.” On an album beginning with “Everblue” and ending with “Blue Lamp,” she doesn’t seem to lose sight of that leitmotif, nor that of the ocean and beach which runs through the poems as well (“Sea-Breeze” and “Waves & Shells”).
Still, while the poetic commentary is the frosting, the music is the cake. And in the end, Everblue is some mighty tasty cake.