By Brian Tucker
For Jude Eden it was love at first listen regarding the cello. While attending 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 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 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 vibrant 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 is Friday, May 22 at the Art Factory on Surrey Street in downtown Wilmington from 6-8 pm. Rebekah Todd will perform, followed by Lawyers, Guns & Money, and Randy McQuay.
Is this is the official 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?
Eden: 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 performing with Stephen Sellers.
Eden: 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 elegant and stark – what were catalysts for material?
Eden: 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 or stressful making a solo album?
Eden: 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 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.
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.
Did you play everything on the album?
Eden: 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.
Eden: 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 Marine Corps. 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 cover Nirvana’s “Something in the Way”
Eden: 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.