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New York Newsday, Sunday Edition
I admit it. I was worried about this one. As with others who discovered Dominique Eade through her first couple of albums, I felt something close to a proprietary interest in her destiny.
Eade isn't just another lovely voice who knows how to bend notes. She is one of the few imaginative artists to have emerged in the crowded field of jazz singing in this decade. Both "The Ruby and the Pearl" (1991) and "My Resistance is Low" (1994) were enough to establish her as a cult favorite, as someone to watch and impose on others who invariably become converts on contact.
It was with mixed feelings that we Eade-ists greeted the news that she'd signed with a major label. Well, all right!, we though at first. What took them so long? And then it dawned on us: Oh no! What are they going to do to her? Were they going to "glam" her up at the expense of her artistry? Were they going to smother her smarts with a gauzy package and make her into a figment of a lounge lizard's imagination? Not with our Dominique, you don't!
The new disc arrived, and well, yes, she does wear an evening gown on the back cover, and darned if it isn't a "concept" album; a selection of songs associated with June Christy and Chris Connor, cool blond singers of an earlier generation! (They're blond! She's blond! Get it?) We took a deep breath. We listened. What on Earth were we worried about?
"When the Wind Was Cool" is as enchanting and inventive a jazz vocal album as anything you're likely to find this side of Betty Carter. Like the master, Eade knows how to make fresh, compelling drama out of familiar material.
Not that the material on this album is necessarily familiar. "All About Ronnie," "The Wind," "Intrigue," "When the Wind Was Green," and even Christy's large hit, "Something Cool," aren't often found in the average jazz singer's repertoire.
Eade, who handles most of the arrangements, peers beneath the glowing surfaces of these eccentric pop items, putting just the right amount of wit and emotion in places where she thinks they're needed. It's hard to believe that anyone could have gotten more poignancy out of "Something Cool," especially through the subtle shadings Eade applies here. But she pulls it off.
Eade's been turning out amazing singers from the New England Conservatory of Music for 14 years. But despite her academic credentials, it isn't just her intelligence that wins you over. The way she sings and scats on "I'll Take Romance" makes you feel that this is someone who enjoys her work. Her brio is so infectious you don't notice how good her timing and dynamics are. On the first listening anyway. As with their predecessors, "When the Wind Was Cool" reveals more pleasures with every run-through.
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