By Kirk Silsbee | Published September 2017
Vocalist Dominique Eade and pianist Ran Blake are jazz mavericks who navigate the Third Stream sublimely. This recorded pairing completes the circle of when Eade was the early-1980s star singer at the New England Conservatory, Blake’s academic home for decades. Deconstructing tunes, they’re minimalists, but each instantly can access deep emotional and musical essences. Together, their alchemy turns far-flung songs into a kind of suite.
Eade sings with an admirably unadorned purity that, while forsaking showy devices, is full of solid but well-hidden craft. Her versatility channels the Gaelic vein of Appalachia on “Gunther: West Virginia Mine Disaster” and African American spirituals on “Elijah Rock”—chilling the bones and soothing the soul, respectively. Whether it’s Leadbelly’s “Goodnight, Irene,” a wordless elegy to Gunther Schuller or “Open Highway” (theme from Route 66), Eade and Blake offer enough material for listeners to mentally orchestrate the songs. These are miniatures, for the most part, but one will not be shortchanged by the circumscribed playing time. Like fine wine, it’s best enjoyed sparingly. Sip, don’t gulp.
Town And Country: Lullaby; It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding); Moon River; West Virginia Mine Disaster; Elijah Rock; Give My Love To Rose; Harvest At Massachusetts General Hospital; The Easter Tree; Moonglow/Theme From Picnic; Thoreau; Moti; Pretty Fly; Open Highway; Gunther: West Virginia Mine Disaster; Harvest At Massachusetts General Hospital; Moonlight In Vermont; Goodnight, Irene. (40:32)
Personnel: Dominique Eade, vocals; Ran Blake, piano.