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album review – Jude Eden’s “In the Key of J”

Sunday, June 14, 2015 at 4:54 by Brian Tucker

Star News Online, Wilmington-area Arts & Entertainment


“In the Key of J” isn’t something wholly different to come out of Wilmington’s music scene, there have been bands to release mostly instrumental albums – Unholy Tongues, The Title Ceremony, Virgin Lung, Youth League. But cello player Jude Eden’s elegant and somber new collection of material is different given the wake of the last few years of local releases.


Eden’s work here is mostly instrumental, along with two covers and a spoken word track at album’s close. The album serves a window into what she’s interested in and the spectrum of what she’s capable of creating (her next album will be spoken word). The covers are interesting (Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” and the soothing “Canon” by Johann Pachelbel) but what resonates strongest are instrumental tracks.


Foremost, this is elegant, wonderful music. The music can feel haunted at times, like album opener “Cascades,” whose melody rests firmly in mind long after ending. “Spy vs. Spy” has a prickly, delicate quality while “Morning Glory” has an Asian subtext (perhaps only to my ears), but the track’s heartbeat rhythm underneath adds to this perceived imagery. “Faye’s Voyage” follows this personality, a song Eden wrote by request in memory of a friend’s mother who passed from cancer. In a recent interviewEden said it wasn’t written about the battle, but the reflection of maternal love.


There’s lovingness to “Whales,” even as it descends into bittersweet ambiance. Her playing is careful and deliberate, and while the cello itself bears much of the personality, Eden’s playing illustrates an intimacy, an internal quality across much of the album’s material. This is pertinent on “La Ramblas,” a just-over two minute instrumental that is tender but cuts deep. It continues on “The Seafarer,” one of the best tracks here after “Cascades.”


Eden has spoken of traveling influences on her work, whether the Middle Eastern flavors in minor keys she plays or time spent in Spain or Fallujah. These influences are subtext, coursing through the veins of these songs. It also highlights her availability of styles and abilities. A former Marine, she has been involved in local music since around 2008, working with Stephen Sellers in low.victor.echo or in the duo Upstarts & Rogues with Jeff Sanchez.


“In the Key of J” is music beautiful and likely to make one feel a little introspective. Cover songs and one spoken word take the listener out of the experience briefly but don’t harm the whole.


Listen or buy here.

Jude Eden album release show this Friday

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 10:47 by Brian Tucker

Star News Online, Wilmington-area Arts & Entertainment


For Jude Eden, it was love at first listen regarding the cello. While attending the fourth grade in Halifax, Nova Scotia the school introduced several instruments – violin, cello, and viola, to students. When she heard its sonorous tones it was all over, she says. She began to learn the cello and recalls “Stand By Me” as probably the first song she taught herself by ear.

“My first ten years playing was pretty standard, I was an orchestra/band/theater geek through college,” Eden says. “Later I veered off from the more formal playing and toward improvising, both solo and with other musicians.”


This Friday she’ll have a release show for her excellent new album “In the Key of J,” a collection of cello driven music that features some singing (and the spoken word “Catalyst”) and two interesting covers, but is mostly elegant and colorful instrumentals. Eden, a former Marine, has been in Wilmington since 2008. She’s played cello with local musicians and formed a duo with Jeff Sanchez called Upstarts & Rogues.

The show will Friday, May 22 at the Art Factory on Surry Street in downtown Wilmington from 6-9 pm. 


Below, Eden discusses the new album.


Is this is the official CD release show for the album?

Eden: I actually finished the album late last fall, but I knew I wouldn’t have the time to do any PR for the album this winter, so I wanted to do a formal release party that would be something more when I had the time to focus on it. A show I had scheduled at Fermental in January ended up being an impromptu release party and I was really moved by all the friends who came to show their support on a cold winter’s eve. That was a touching, memorable night and I know this Friday’s show will be too, especially with the visual arts mixed in.


The show comprises art, poetry and music?

Yes, I spent many years as a photographer and am a dabbler in other art forms like painting. Poetry is always a part of my performances, whether solo or with Upstarts & Rogues. I used to do a lot of slams and open mic’s back in the day and I love adding that element in. The show has all these different forms of expression because that’s what I do, a myriad. I don’t always stick with one medium because sometimes the inspiration isn’t there, so I don’t force it. Sometimes the creativity is happening with music, sometimes its writing, sometimes it’s paint or something else. I’m just your friendly neighborhood singing poet cellist photographer painter Marine war vet. Not always at the same time though.


My earliest memory is meeting you performingwith Stephen Sellers. How long have you been in Wilmington?

I moved to Wilmington in 2008 after getting out of the Marine Corps. I had put music and art aside for those years and wanted to bring them off the back burner when I got out. My husband and I used to come down for day-trips to Wilmington and I fell for both the southern charm and the open art and music community.

I’d become friends with Bonnie England who owned and ran Bottega at the time with Steve Gibbs, so when we moved here I naturally gravitated there when I decided to come out and play. I wasn’t sure how it would evolve, but I knew I wanted to play more with others. One night I was improvising with someone there and I met Stephen who said he’d love to have a cello player with his band low.victor.echo (in its various incarnations from duo to six-man band). That’s how I met Jeff Sanchez and we later formed Upstarts & Rogues. Before the Marines I always performed solo, so being part of a group or duo was pretty new for me.


The mood of the album is both elegant and stark – what were catalysts for the material?

Experimentation was the main ingredient. They all begin with a simple, singular element, and then I can take it anywhere, and I do. Live sets are never twice the same. With some, there was something in mind, a mood or train of thought that managed to come out through my fingers and bow strokes.

“Faye’s Voyage” was written by request in memory of a friend’s mother who passed away too young of cancer, but the song is not a reflection of the battle with disease that was lost, but of maternal love, Faye’s own life, and the sense her daughter felt of her beloved mother journeying on. I’ve also been heavily influenced by my travels in the last few years, especially deployment to Fallujah and a later visit to Spain. The minor keys I tend to play in have a Middle-Eastern and ancient quality.


Was it freeing making a solo album? Did you have helpful experience from Upstarts & Rogues?

A solo record was long overdue. Truth be told, I’m still behind on recording my original work, but I wanted to get the cello compositions down on record. Upstarts & Rogues’ “Twain Shall Meet” album was done under time constraints, but “In the key of J” had none, which was wonderful. Working with Patrick Ogelvie at Flux Audio was a delight. We were simpatico not only on the aim and feel of the album, but also on giving the recording the time and space it needed to develop well.


The new album, was it conceived/recorded over a long period, recording songs intermittently?

The album was recorded over a year and a half. “Witness” and the “Catalyst” poem were written many years ago, but the multidimensional pieces were all composed in the past few years, so creating a solo cello record developed once I had a respectable series to show.


Did you record in live takes?

The melodies are live takes, the initial bass lines were recorded from my loop pedal and are what I start with during live shows, adding elements in succession. The real challenge to recording a classical instrument is the performance perfection you strive for on each take. It’s nerve-racking.


How much of layering of tracks is there? Did you play everything on the album?

Yes, I play everything on the album. Much of it was recorded the way I do it live, where I start with one plucking bass line that I’ve recorded into my loop pedal and the rest is layered on as I go. Working in the studio afforded me some opportunities and happy accidents to layer multiple takes in a way that I couldn’t do live. Now I’ve even incorporated doing live through the pedal what I created in the studio, so it’s full circle, and there are still so many possibilities for where each piece could be taken.


There aren’t a lot of vocals.

I had mostly the instrumental compositions in mind for this album. I briefly considered doing an album that would be half-and-half cello compositions and spoken word pieces, but felt that would have been too long and complicated. My next recording will be mostly spoken word – that’s what I’m long overdue on, I should have recorded them long before joining the MC. But I did want to add some variation that worked thematically and dynamically with the other pieces. “Catalyst” is a poem that fit nicely with what’s underneath it – a one-of-a-kind thing I did live at a show using my distortion pedal.


Why Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” as a cover? Did you consider other tracks (or another band) to cover?

It wasn’t about doing a Nirvana song, it was that song. It’s one I love that lends itself well to cello and vocal interpretation. It’s also similar in simplicity and dynamic to what I tend to write, so it fit nicely into the series.

Karmic Fury Records reviews Jude Eden's solo album In the Key of J

Posted on January 9, 2015 by karma


This Saturday, January 10th, is the much-anticipated release of cellist Jude Eden’s debut album In the Key of J. She will be performing live at Fermental at 7pm, at which time you can also pick up a copy of the album. For more details, check out the Facebook event.


Best known locally for being half of the duo Upstarts and Rogues (we talked about them inKFR Live #8), this is Eden’s first solo recording effort. The songs are mostly instrumental, usually with melodies layered over rhythmic plucking. The beauty of songs without lyrics is that the listener is free to go wherever she or he chooses, to interpret the music based on the emotion it invokes, with no verbal guidelines from the creator. I recommend listening to this album when you have time to let your mind wander and go on an adventure, undistracted by the “real” world.


In the Key of J opens with “Cascades,” a good introduction to Eden’s style of sonorous melody layered over percussive plucking. The second track, “Spy vs. Spy,” might be my personal favorite. Eden cleverly utilizes her instrument for a variety of effects, from resonating knocks to sneaky slides in and out of some of the notes. I really got a sense of mystery, tiptoeing around, the possibility of danger. “Morning Glory” stands out as the brightest and most cheerful song on a largely brooding album, invoking images of gardens, meadows, and the fresh dew of a new day.


“Faye’s Voyage” is another example of great effects, including some nice scratching noises. There’s a sense of symmetry, with effects at the beginning and the end, and dual melodies interlacing throughout the body of the song. I sort of felt like I was on a boat, which made the segue into “Whales” make a lot of sense. The plucking fades in and out like the pulsing of sonar, with a strong and smooth melody layered nicely over it. Eden gives this song space to breathe, with an easy melody that doesn’t feel forced to cover too much ground. “Witness” is a short and sinister-sounding track with no background plucking, implying a singular voice carrying a lot of emotion and possibly some trauma.


I suppose “Canon” might technically be considered to be a cover song, since it is based on Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” However, Eden gets a ton of points for creativity. I expected multiple layers of cello, which is what happens eventually. Totally unexpected was Eden’s sultry yet understated voice added into the mix, the only time she actually sings on the album. Her two instruments are layered like a musical lasagna: Cello, cello, vocals, vocals, cello, vocals, etc. The breathy vocal harmonies interwoven with the cello melodies really make this arrangement different from any heard before. By the time the song reaches its crescendo, the effect is that of a choir of singers on one side and a choir of cellos on the other. The wild ride wraps up with a solitary cello. You’ve heard this song before but you haven’t heard THIS song before.


“La Ramblas” sounds like the soundtrack to someone getting ready for a duel or a mission or at least walking down the street meaningfully, possibly on a hot day. “Something in the Way” is a brooding interlude that marches deliberately. In “The Seafarer” Eden uses reverb and delay to make the cello actually sound like water. When the dual high and low melodies kick in, I do feel like I’m on a journey on the sea.


The album ends with a cacophonous head trip of a song called “Catalyst.” This is the only other time Eden’s voice appears on the album, this time with spoken word. I’ve always enjoyed her lyrical freestyles performed live and don’t think a Jude Eden album would be complete without showing off her poetic prowess. There is so much going on in this song that I had a hard time deciding what to listen to. On the one hand, there is a whole toolbox of cello effects, from the sound of dripping water to a traffic jam of beautiful noise. And on the other hand there is Eden’s voice, both ominous and playful, echoing amid the futuristic orchestra. Among the lyrical gems are lines such as “Darkness is the catalyst for my creative catharsis.” The line she repeats as the song and album comes to a close could be a tagline for the album itself: “A new way into the same old day.”

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