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Dominique Eade + Jed Wilson: Open

Dan McClenaghan By

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Boston-based jazz vocalist Dominique Eade—who has been on the faculty of the New England Conservatory since 1984—boasts a formidable record as a voice teacher. Three of the four finalists at the 1994 Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition were students of hers—including the winner, Sara Lazarus. In 1998 another of her pupils, Roberta Gambarini, took third place in the competition; and in 2004 Rachel Price and Jo Lawrey, who also studied with Eade, were finalists.

With Open, the teacher proves without a shadow of a doubt that those who teach can also do, and they do it with class and style, with a rare depth of talent, subtlety and panache, with a straightforward honesty of delivery, glowing intimacy and warmth.

I'm so glad they didn't clutter this sound up. This is piano and voice, period, an intimate musical conversation. If Eade, hooked up with some marketing-focused manager, were trying to do things in the popular music field—not a stretch, really; her songwriting chops can be compared to understated grace of Joni Mitchell's, with maybe some Elvis Costello genre-bending intelligence mixed in—they'd have put a drum machine or a bland percussionist behind her, and some fiery guitar, maybe a synthesizer (a bunch of electricity, in other words) and they'd have leached the humanity out of her sound.

"Open," indeed. The title tune, "Open Letter" (penned by Eade), has a delicate melodic beauty, nodding to Jobim. Jed Wilson's piano caresses her phrases magically, yielding a mix of vocal warmth and delicate, sometimes brittle percussive interplay. On another Eade tune, "What's the Use," she sings: "If your heart's an open book, can anyone take a look, inside," followed by Wilson's achingly, ringingly pretty ruminations.

One more highlight—in an exquisite set, start-to-finish—is the Leonard Cohen tune "In My Secret Life." Cohen wrote, "I'd die for the truth, in my secret life." When Eade sings this in her rich and forthright tone over Wilson's intricate foundation, you believe her. You do believe her!

With a lot of talent out there in the female vocalist field, this one stands out for its honesty, intelligence and spare and unalloyed beauty.

Visit Dominique Eade on the web.


Track Listing: 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.

Personnel: Dominique Eade: vocals; Jed Wilson: piano.

Title: Open | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Jazz Project


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