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Open by Dominique Eade + Jed Wilson

Dominique Eade’s influence extends beyond her memorable recordings to her success in teaching another generation of jazz singers during her 22 years on the faculty of the New England Conservatory in Boston. Just a few of her students have included Kate McGarry, Luciana Souza, Sara Lazarus, Kris Adams and Patrice Williamson. This mentor of upcoming talent who has worked in a trio with pianist Donald Brown and in duos with pianist Ran Blake and bassist Mark Helias discovered her most recent accompanist, Jed Wilson, among the New England Conservatory’s students as well. When Eade needed a pianist for an engagement in 2004, she asked the not-yet-graduated Wilson to join her. Their newly discovered like-mindedness led to more performances, and now to a duo album, Open, Eade’s first in seven years. Having begun her recording career with two highly acclaimed self-produced CDs before recording two more on RCA Victor, Eade again has self-produced a project that she believes in.

Although Wilson has moved back to Orgeon since graduation, Open lives on as a documentation of the magic that occurred when Eade sang and Wilson played. Fittingly perhaps, Eade has attained artistic fulfillment on Open through the reduction of instrumentation, concentrating instead on the freedom allowed by spontaneous accompanying response to the fascinating vocal possibilities that she develops during the course of a song. With a broad range and a devotion to the meaning of a song, Eade varies each track according to the moods that she creates, and still she remains accessible and engaging to a broad cross section of listeners.

Eade wrote seven of the eleven songs on the recording, rewarding the listener with direct, affecting appeals to universal human emotions. "What’s the Use," a composition of delightfully unexpected intervals, explores the nuances of futility with insight and concision. As if the words of the song weren’t sufficient for describing the extent of her befuddlement, Eade concludes the track with a wordless repeat of the melody backed by Wilson’s exquisite touch, reminiscent of her alluring introduction to "Come Down in Time" over Cyro Baptista’s percussion on The Long Way Home. Seeming to challenge herself, Eade, the alto, writes in "W.G." an astounding three-octave ascent that culminates on a high G after the listener thinks, "Oh no, she can’t possibly end this phrase on that note." But she does.

"Open Letter," a tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim, actually is a combination of Eade’s imaginative, rippling delivery of poetic lyrics with an adaptation of "Águas de Março" at the bridge: "The edge, the air / The jump, the prayer / The sun, the light / The endless night / The open door / The dance, the rock, the floor / The joy untold /All of the thoughts / Your head could ever hold." Cleverly, Eade avoids imitation of Brazilian singing (as if she could be anyone but herself,) and incorporates the creativity of Jobim as a component of her song.

The few standards that Eade includes aren’t often performed. Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh’s "You Fascinate Me So" receives a delivery of subdued beginning with swelling emotion at the repeat as if Eade were singing to the object of fascination (while Wilson provides a flowing accompaniment.). "Never Let Me Go" is sung in rubato fashion, Wilson following Eade’s lead as she creates a sense of longing by flattening notes through chromatic descent and by heightening the emotion by singing the second chorus an octave higher. Consistent with Eade’s theme of open vulnerability, she includes Wilson’s suggestion, Leonard Cohen’s more harmonically straightforward "In My Secret Life," wherein a "Look through the papers.... / Makes you wanna cry. / Nobody cares if the people / Live or die."

A singer of lyrical imagination and individualistic vocal strength, Dominique nonetheless beguiles the listener with charm and attention to descriptive detail. Eade doesn’t record frequently only, it seems, when she has something important to document and so, Open, featuring her latest collaboration with Jed Wilson, is an opportunity to enjoy once again Eade’s imaginative approach.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dominique Eade + Jed Wilson
  • CD Title: Open
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Jazz Project
  • Tracks: Home, Open Letter, You Fascinate Me So, Go Gently To The Water, Series Of One, In My Secret Life, What’s The Use, W.G., Never Let Me Go, CT Bridge, The Last Bus Home
  • Musicians: Dominique Eade (vocals), Jed Wilson (piano)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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