Tessa Souter: Beyond The Blue

Every now and then, you get the feel that a certain release is going to be the one that finally lets an artist break out and become (deservedly) better known. This latest release by vocalist Tessa Souter may just be her chance. It finds her in the sympathetic support of some all star guys like Steve Kuhn/p, David Finck/b, Billy Drummond/dr, Joe Locke/vibe, Gary Versace/accordion and Joel Frahm, but that’s not the catch here. The draw is that Souter uses her supple and autumnal voice to interpret European classical pieces such as Ravel’s Pavane, Chopin’s Prelude in E minor or Debussy’s Reverie. Avoiding the trap of gimmickry, Souter takes these melodies and gives them a folksy late night jazz nightclub feel, emphasizing the subtleties of the lyricisms and dark harmonies.

By adding her own lyrics, she takes the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony (“Prelude to the Sun) and creates a luminous expression of fragile hope. Her mixture of voice with Locke’s vibes and Finck’s bass on “Chiaroscuro” (Albinoni’s Adagio) is tensile and delicate while “My Reverie” has her mix it up playfully with Kuhn’s ivories. A standard like “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” is coalesced with Borodin’s string quartet that sounds as comfortable and logical like a well tailored suit. All the while, Souter sings like she believes the message, making this a disc you’ll want to go back to over and over.

Motema Records 

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