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Eden Atwood: Waves: The Bossa Nova Session (SACD)

Eden Atwood’s appeal derives from the understated integrity that she brings to her material, and from the fact that her voice, with its airiness and crystal clear diction, is simply excellent company. If Patricia Barber’s albums are for late at night, Atwood’s are bright enough for morning. But her affirmative spirit does not equate to superficiality. On Waves: The Bossa Nova Session’s “It’s a Quiet Thing,” her matter-of-fact encounter with self-truths is quietly moving. The program contains a group of Brazilian pieces including four Jobim songs, but there is also room for Irving Berlin (“How Deep Is the Ocean?”) and Lennon/McCartney (“Fool on the Hill”). Atwood’s band features strong West Coast players like guitarist Anthony Wilson and drummer Joe LaBarbera and pianist Bill Cunliffe.

The immaculate sound of Waves is the work of producer Joe Harley and engineer Michael C. Ross, who were early supporters of SACD technology. The album was recorded in analog and mixed to 5.1 channels. Harley and Ross employ the multichannel resource with taste and discretion, not to call attention to itself but to suggest the ambient signature of the recording space, and to provide a wider sound stage than would otherwise be possible. Atwood is mixed dead-on in the center channel, and the information in the rears is there mostly to recreate room reflections. The end result is a sonic experience that is more palpable and alive, more believable in its multidimensional complexity.

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