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Boston Sidewalk (Boston, MA)
May 3, 1999
Dominique Eade Quintet

Outside of this city and Manhattan, and even after four albums, the wider world of jazz probably would still consider the singer, songwriter and arranger Dominique Eade a find, if, indeed, they are aware of her at all. But discerning listeners in Boston (she's taught at New England Conservatory for the past 15 years) and New York (formerly her home base) know that Eade it rhymes with "deed" bears special gifts, and they're manifest in The Long Way Home, her new disc for RCA Victor.

The album's material amounts to a song cycle, a dozen pieces (she wrote four) whose emotional center is the concept of home, more spiritual than actual. Eade's multi-hued voice, as clear as a glacial lake but in no way cold, deftly handles an unusually wide range of material. She moves from Frank Loesser's thoroughly un-childish children's song, "Hans Christian Andersen" (introduced by Danny Kaye in the 1952 movie musical of the same name, Eade's arrangement catches the ear via quicksilver modulations) to Ornette Coleman's penetrating "All My Life," and from the way that drains it of all Adult Contemporary syrupiness) to the refreshingly unironic jazzy-country feel of Loesser's long-overlooked "Have I Stayed Away Too Long" and her own art song-like "Velvet."

Her previous work for RCA, When the Wind Was Cool, was in the upper echelon of 1997's jazz vocal recordings and was a tribute album to two of the leading "songbirds" of the 50s, June Christie and Chris Connor. Eade is a superior technician whose voice has greater range, for the most part a more expressive interpreter, and more a risk-taker (although that side of her work was subjugated on the disc) than her two honorees. Nonetheless, When the Wind was by its very nature less personal than The Long Way Home.

Without entering the loathsome and all-too-frequently-entered realm of Soul Bearing, Eade opens herself up just enough, and backed by a small, expert supporting cast (including old friend, and former Boston resident, Bruce Barth on piano, Berklee-ite Mick Goodrick on guitar, and the brilliant bass-drums team of Dave Holland and Victor Lewis), she makes us feel that we're home to stay.

(Extra credit is due the engineer Jim Anderson, best known for his collaborations with the singer, pianist and songwriter Patricia Barber, who once again has created a warm, enveloping sound; and the photographer Robert Lewis, whose Mediterranean-blue profile cover further enhances the package's total ambiance of the mysterious and invites comparisons of the subject to Michelle Pfeiffer.)

For her R-bar one-nighter, Eade will be backed by pianist Barth, guitarist Goodrick, the drummer Victor Lewis, and the bassist Ed Howard. All but Howard grace the new album.

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