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The Boston Phoenix
On The Long Way Home (RCA), Dominique Eade proves she's more than a singer. She's a complete jazz musician—a composer, arranger, band leader, and improviser—whose instrument happens to be her voice. And she flaunted her jazz credentials a week ago Wednesday at the Regattabar with pianist Bruce Barth, guitarist Mick Goodrick, drummer Victor Lewis, and bassist Ed Howard (replacing Home's Dave Holland).
Eade's first RCA album, 1997's When the Wind Was Cool, showcased her abilities as an interpreter of songs associated with ‘50s chanteuses Chris Connor and June Christy. Eade's renditions were intelligent and heartfelt, but the disc left her many other talents untapped. Now she has returned to the more personal approach of her earlier Accurate label albums. Most welcome is the return of her soloing. Eade's scat singing has all the speed and dexterity of an instrumentalist combined with the dark warmth of the human voice. Her Long Way Home duet with bassist Holland on "Two for the Road" is a true meeting of equals.
Composer Eade pens strong melodies and lyrics that display the classic values of great American songwriting without sounding old-fashioned. For instance, "Rounding the Bend" has a knowing irony about heartache and a poetic use of metaphor and imagery that make it refreshingly witty and not at all self-serious. And she rounds out her repertoire by selecting fresh material to cover, dusting off neglected gems like Frank Loesser's country ballad "Have I Stayed Away Too Long" and Ornette Coleman's "All My Life" on Long Way Home.
All of Eade's virtues were writ large at the Regattabar, where most of the material she performed was from the new album. There was an especially sad and anxious catch in her voice on "Have I Stayed Away Too Long," and the band bounded through "Rounding the Bend," with Lewis turning in a driving tom-tom and snare solo. Barth and Lewis were especially tight on "Hans Christian Andersen," exchanging phrases in conversational interplay. But the highlight of the set was an ultra-obscure Matt Dennis ballad called "It Wasn't the Stars" that featured a ravishing free-form introduction by Eade and Goodrick. Once again, it was Eade's ability to surprise and delight that paid off the most
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