July/August 2004

Eden Atwood
This Is Always
Groove Note Records

One of the most undersung heroes of modern jazz singing, Eden Atwood continues to quietly churn out impeccable albums that are as elegant as they are inviting. For This Is Always: The Ballad Session (Groove Note), Atwood finds herself in a contemplative mood, focusing on the quiet beauty of romantic satisfaction. Reteaming with producer Joe Harley and pianist/arranger Bill Cunliffe, both of whom helped make Waves, her 2002 wade into Brazilian waters so delightful, Atwood finds another ideal playmate in trumpeter Tom Harrell for this fine and mellow exploration of 10 creamy standards. (Her "Serenata," a tune I don't think I've heard since Nat "King" Cole and George Shearing so handily tackled it back in '61, is singularly stunning.) Through it all, to steal a sentiment from the title track, Atwood proves that her vocal magnificence isn't sometimes; it is always.

Originally published in July/August 2004
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