If you were to ask a group of emerging jazz vocalists in New York who they were influenced or taught by, a surprising number would mention Mark Murphy or Dominique Eade. Certainly, Murphy's long career and many awards do not make him a surprise choice, but what of Dominique Eade?
As the child of an Air Force officer father and a Swiss mother, Eade spent her youth in Europe living on different military posts. In high school, her first gigs were at Stuttgart coffee houses. Later in America while a Vassar student, she sang with a jazz group called Naima that included Joe McPhee. Transferring to Berklee School of Music and finally New England Conservatory of Music, Eade met pianist/composer Ran Blake, who became her mentor. After graduation, she played clubs in the Boston area and began teaching at NEC. Dominique Eade has remained a staff member there since 1984.
Eade released her first album, The Ruby and the Pearl, in 1992 on the Boston-based Accurate label, where My Resistance Is Low followed two years later. Both presented an edgy singer who was not afraid to push the envelope at least a bit. A new contract with RCA resulted in an homage to the cool femme vocalists of the 1950s, specifically jazz singers Chris Connor and June Christy. This fully mainstream effort, When The Wind Was Cool (1996), was well-received and followed by Long Way Home (1999).
For her first album in seven years, Eade chose a piano-vocal duet format and selected the young Jed Wilson, who was then a graduating NEC student. Considering her background, one might have expected an aggressive pianist, but in fact Wilson proves to be a sensitive and probing musician whose own solos are in a Bill Evans/Fred Hersch mode. The album features a number of Eade originals, two songs from the Great American Songbook, a Leonard Cohen composition and the opening track, the poignant "Home," penned by Von Steeden/Clarkson.
Eade has also selected a seldom-recorded ballad: Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh's "You Fascinate Me So" may have originated with Blossom Dearie in 1959, but I think it goes back to an rather obscure cabaret revue in Manhattan's Plaza Hotel titled Julius Monk's Dime A Dozen from the same time period. The Livingston/Evans piece "Never Let Me Go" is presented so that Eade won't let you forget the romantic message. Eade occasionally uses vocalese to enhance the lyric message.
Eade's own "Open Letter" made me think of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Waters of March," for reasons I can't explain well. Her ballads "Go Gently To The Water" and "The Last Bus Home" all display the lyrics and tuneful melodies of a singer/songwriter who is used to providing these songs on a more regular basis. Leonard Cohen's "In My Secret Life" was suggested by Jed Wilson, and this beautiful song deserves more exposure.
The combination of Dominique Eade's music and Jed Wilson's sympatico work make Open a keeper!
Personnel: Dominique Eade: voice; Jed Wilson: piano.