I am thrilled to be coming “home” this weekend for gigs starting in LA (Blue Whale, Monday, Nov 27th), then San Francisco (SF Jazz, Thursday, Nov 30th), Sebastopol (Ernie Shelton’s, Saturday, Dec. 1st) and Santa Cruz (Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Monday, December 4). Please come if you are around, and please also share on Facebook, Twitter, via email or whatever is your preference!

Picture by Sue Edwards. Showing me with Neville and Winston

I just got back from playing the London Jazz Festival, which was sold out and spectacular fun! Two separate sets – they turned the house – and amazing audiences. The first set they were so quiet I wasn’t sure if they were even enjoying it (yikes!) but in the break so many people said they loved it and even cried (one person was “transformed” they said!) that I realized yes, British people are kind of shy – unless they are football hooligans, of course. Don’t seem to get many of those at my gigs.

I told that to the totally new house on the second set and said the best way to get a great performance is to give some feedback while you are actually performing and they dutifully went bonkers after each song. I had to tell them to stop it because it didn’t really count. Even though it iS true that a great audience can really raise the level of a performance gigantically. This was the liquored up 10:30pm set, so they didn’t really tone down that much, But it was big fun, as my man likes to say about good gigs, and I love my UK Band, Neville Malcolm, Sean Hargreaves and Winston Clifford. Beautiful players and people.

And as an added bonus I got to spend some holiday time with my family and some very dear, and very old (but young looking, of course) friends. And, yes, I brought back my Marks & Spencer’s Christmas pudding, which no doubt I will have to eat on my own, since my American friends don’t “understand” Christmas pudding (or Marmite, come to that).

I gave the limited edition copies of Picture in Black and White that I owed to my Kickstarter people and sold out of the rest on the gig! Hooray. However, I am bringing with me the copies I set aside to give to my California contributors – as well as copies to sell. This is a very limited edition. I only made 500. And most of those are spoken for already! So make sure to grab yours while you can.

I’ve been sort of holding off on press if I can, because the album is not freely available yet, but gigs must be publicized so there was a Q&A with me in LondonJazzNews about the album, which you can read HERE.. I think the San Francisco Chronicle is running a feature about me/it in the next few days. If you see it, please save me a hard copy! And there was a mini review of the second set at the Jazz Festival in LondonJazzNews: I have helpfully included it in its mini entirety  below, but please do google Mini Reviews and LondonJazzNews to read more festival mini reviews, including Chris Potter, Jameo Brown and more. My friend Sue Edwards had requested I do the song, even though I wasn’t prepared and suddenly thought, Crikey! Will I remember the lyrics, it has been so long. But looking into Winston’s eyes reminded me. We used to sing it on every gig (about once a year). HERE is a 2009 version of us doing it.

Me and WInston Clifford singing my original tune, Usha’s Wedding Song.

“Tessa Souter, Pizza Express Jazz Club (18 November) A really beautiful, surprise a cappella duet from Tessa Souter and her drummer Winston Clifford at Pizza Express Jazz Club on Saturday night. Tessa’s version of Wayne Shorter’s Ana Maria (with her own lyrics) was also very moving.” (John Watson)

Meanwhile, see you in California with some more wonderful musicians. Josh Nelson and Dave Robaire in Los Angeles, And Hristo Vitchev, Dan Robbins and Lorca Hart in the Bay Area. I may try to get one of them to sing. But whether they do or not,  I can’t wait!

 

I’ve just found out about Tidal –  according to the blurb:. “the first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos and curated editorial, expertly crafted by music journalists.” Anyway, you can now stream my music on Tidal.  One of my audiophile friends let me know, so I’m letting you know. Click the picture to go to the Nights of Key Largo album, but I think Obsession is on there too. In other news, my albums Nights of Key Largo (Venus) and Beyond the Blue (Venus) are now available as SACDs – Super Audio Compact Discs, For those who don’t know, single-layer SACDs can only be played on a Super Audio CD player. Check them out on the CDs page.  

Yoram Silberstein, Yasushi Nakamura, Billy Drummond and John Nugent. Credit : Aaron Winters
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Our audience at Christ Church on the second night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
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Poster for the second half of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. I’m on it TWICE!

Each year that I go back to this jazz festival (this was my sixth year) it’s better than before! Rochester was my first ever festival (in 2007) and I think it will always be my favorite. I will always be forever grateful to Ron Netsky who wrote my first preview, and first review, which was the beginning.

This year I went a day early without even realizing that meant I could see my favorite contemporary singer, the phenomenal Korean vocalist Youn Sun Nah. She was, as usual, amazing and we all loved her. At least I think that’s what three standing ovations means , , ,  DDhrlcLXsAAM9FE

And afterwards, backstage with Ron Netsky, she hugged and kissed me and asked after my family. I was amazed she would remember so much about me. from one meeting plus my having picked one of her songs as one of my Jazz Jukebox (click the play arrow) choices when I played at Ruth Price’s Jazz Bakery one year. Then again, that’s how she sings – very real and engaged and generous. I have bought her albums for the children in my life  – I am nine, so I know what other nine-year-olds love – and they all love her too.

Me, Ron Netsky and Youn Sun Nah backstage
Preview in the Rochester City Paper

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Our own festival gigs were fantastic. The Rochester crowd is always incredible. Someone in the audience on the first night welcomed me “home” and that is what it feels like now! But this year I was worried about filling such large capacity rooms (700 and 500) over two nights. But there had been so much fantastic pre-press in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle  and the Rochester City Paper (see below) that all the shows were packed and a lot of people came to both nights! Thank you.  Here are the reviews of the first night for the first set (by Justin Murphy of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle) and the second set (by Ron Netsky of the Rochester City Paper). Being interviewed by Derrick Lucas of 90.1 definitely helped too – although please excuse my appearance. Who knew that a radio interview would be video-ed! And thank you also Lee Russ on North Coast Radio.  I’ll be back! Here are some of the pictures.

I caught the end of our own standing O at Xerox Auditorium
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In the bar with Evan Gregor, Billy Drummond, Bill Goodwin, Joe LaBarbara, Mike Melito and Pat LaBarbera
Preview in Rochester Democrat and Chronicle for Youn Sun Nah and me, both picked as the one show overall not to miss for entire festival

 

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Second night at Christ Church at the festival
Audience at Xerox Auditorium. Tessa Souter, Yotam Silberstein, Yasuhi Nakamura and Billy Drummond
Yotam and Yasushi making their way to meet us at the festival
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Audience at Christ Church at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. for Tessa Souter Quartet
Xerox Auditorium at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. Tessa Souter with Billy Drummond

Okay, it is totally insane but SOMEHOW, along with one of my favorite singers in the whole world, Youn Sun Nah, I have been picked as the one show overall not to miss at the upcoming (and actually star-studded) nine-day Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. Youn will be performing on June 29th (I’ll be in the audience) and I will be performing on June 30 and July 1.  So you can see us both! Hooray! Not sure how that happened but I am thrilled! You can read the whole article here.   Thank you Jack Garner (who picked me) and Jeff Spevac (who picked Youn Sun Nah) for putting me in the same camp as one of my ultimate musical heroines. And thank you, Rochester, for having me back. This will be my sixth year!younsun and me the one best overall

Billy Drummond and I went to see Youn Sun Nah perform a couple of years ago at the Blue Note in New York. When we went back stage, I was amazed that she knew who I was. She gave me three of her CDs, which she’d specially saved for me. It is so great to meet someone you admire and find out that they are every bit as lovely as their music. w-Billy-Drummond-and-Youn-Sun-Nah-after-her-gig-at-Birdland-2014

 

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Finding my way between the two cities notwithstanding (always a challenge for the directional dyslexic), I was so thrilled to be back at Doc’s Lab in San Francisco this week, and blown away to have my debut at the San Jose Jazz Festival Summerfest, playing with wonderful musicians, Hristo Vitchev, Dan Robbins and Jemal Ramirez.

13932900_10155090230906521_6774812427855562398_nNot to mention staying with my lovely friend Shannon, surrounded by Redwood groves and lovely smelling flowers and eucalyuptus trees. Something about those Redwoods. They feel so present, as if they have souls or something.

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One of the Redwood groves by the house

And having my coffee on the deck in the morning with birds. And eating pears picked from the trees in the garden. Shannon totally spoiled me! I could get used to that life.

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Arielle, me and Gabrielle after my gig at Cafe Stritch

My San Jose Jazz Festival debut was amazing fun and we sold out Cafe Stritch, which surprised me because the venue is huge. Then again, that’s why we love festivals. I kept running into people outside when I was wandering around who said they’d been turned away at the door. But I played two days – the second day with just Hristo and Jemal in the Pagoda Room – so some of the people who hadn’t been able to get in the day before were able to make it, and some who had been there the day before made it again. It is so wonderful traveling for music and meeting new people – including my new-to-me cousin, Gabrielle, who came with her beautiful daughter, Arielle. And making it even more fun, we were interviewed on the spot for KCSM Radio by Dick Conte and Melanie Burzon. I love California.

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This green room used to be a club. No wonder it is so spectacular.

Cafe Stritch has the best green room I’ve ever seen. You could have another gig up there. In fact, I think they used to have gigs up there years ago. I wielded my all-stages pass and ran into tons of great musicians, including Karrin Allyson (also playing at Cafe Stritch), The Royal Bopsters, JC Stylles, Will Calhoun, Nastuko and Eddie Henderson and Jana Herzen. It’s a beautiful festival in a beautiful city. More please!

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The deck at night.
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Will Calhoun, me and Jana’s mum
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Miming on Dan’s bass
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Waiting for Will Calhoun to come on.
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Sunday at the Pagoda Room, San Jose.
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Jana Herzen and me at Will Calhoun’s gig.
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Karrin Allyson at Cafe Stritch.
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Natsuko took this picture of me with Eddie Henderson – who stepped in at the last minute on Will’s gig and was amazing!
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Doc’s Lab on Friday night

 

 

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I had such an amazing time in England this trip. First of all, I got to hang with my family, which was a gigantic treat. And I got to travel around the country a bit more than usual. I went to Durham for the first time, which is so beautiful. Super English and very civilized (by which I mean they had fish and chip shops, cake shops, tons of well-stocked Oxfams, decent Cadbury’s chocolate, PG Tips and great Indian food).

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Afternoon teas, fish and chips, British Cadbury’s chocolate. Yes I put on weight!

And I had my debut performance in gorgeous Newcastle which I am horrified to report I had never been to before, and which I was surprised to find at least as beautiful as (famously beautiful) Bath. Prior to this visit, the only associations I had  were coal (as per the saying “Like taking coals to Newcastle”), beer (Newcastle Brown Ale) and factories. How wrong. Besides which, it’s worth going there for the accent alone, which is hands down IMO the most beautiful accent in all of Great Britain. I was asking directions just to hear it over and over again. And I got to play with the Peter Gilligan Trio which was really fun at a wonderful venue called The Cherry Tree. I have to keep reminding myself how lucky I am to play with all these great people all over the world.

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Civilized chocolate machine on Newcastle station platform

Speaking of which, London’s Pizza Express was a blast. We had a packed house, which is always fun, and I got to sing with the incredible Cleveland Watkiss who surprised me by being in the audience and who I invited onto the stage for an unrehearsed “I’ll Remember April” (I think) as well as to join me with drummer/singer extraordinaire Winston Clifford (who I always love singing with in London) on Ayub Ogada’s “Kothbiro” – singing harmonies and taking turns at soloing. What an amazing singer and musician and what a treat it was to share the stage with him at first sight! My cousin, bassist Sara Loewenthal, of the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, who has wanted to get us in the same stage for years, took the pictures.

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Joined on stage at Pizza Express, Soho, by the fantabulous Cleveland Watkiss
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Singing ‘Kothbiro’ with Cleveland Watkiss and Winston Clifford

It was also my first time playing with Neville Malcolm and Sean Hargreaves – both beautiful people and players and this trio is now my UK core band. I love them and we laughed so much at our six-hour (pub break included) rehearsal – which I went to pretty much straight off the plane from New York. Eesh! Yes I was tired but it didn’t matter. And I also had my first ever gig at Pizza Express in Maidstone, which was lovely in a more low key way (by which I mean, er . . . not packed), and I met some lovely people, who I hope to see next time.

I’m finishing up my next CD and will plan a trip back maybe in the fall. Not sure yet. But definitely before the weather turns mean – although, it has to be said, it rained every single day of this trip. So I suppose, to borrow a poem by (quite obviously British) Anon:

We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.”

See you then!

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Pizza Express in Maidstone
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Winston Clifford, , me, Sean Hargreaves and Neville Malcolm – my wonderful UK band outside Pizza Express, Soho

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pizza Express Soho

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Well, actually, it aired already … on Valentine’s Day this year. But it’s coming back to be re-aired on the Rochester PBS Network on Friday, June 17th at 10pm on WXXI-TV, and has just been released to the national networks. Watch this space for more news. Meanwhile, you can read all about the unbelievable series of cock-ups that led to this gig almost not even happening HERE12714500_10206026427763224_1052229277_n

Finally getting near to the finished mix of Picture in Black and White. Next up – mastering! I can’t wait. The hardest thing of all is the listening back to it and switching on just enough critical listening to discern the best takes without being so self-critical that you just want to discard the whole thing. Here we are back in November, which feels like years ago, at Systems Two, Brooklyn.

Billy Drummond, Adam Platt, Yotam Silberstein, Dana Leong, Yasushi Nakamura and Max Ross.
Billy Drummond (drums), Adam Platt (piano), Yotam Silberstein (guitar), Dana Leong (cello), Yasushi Nakamura (bass) and Max Ross (engineer).

 

 

So here is a picture of my wonderful recording band. We will be playing this Friday at the 55 Bar in New York (if you or friends happen to be here) – all deets on my gigs page. Billy, is in Argentina so he won’t be at this one, which is a shame. Playing with him is like riding a racehorse – both incredibly sensitive and powerful at the same time. And, even if he is playing gently, you can feel that immense power is available to you – should you decide to go galloping off into the sunset, flying over every fence and hedge on the way. It’s so exciting. If you’ve seen him perform, watching him play gives you some idea, but actually playing with him is … well a whole other …er, animal. A horse animal.

Picture of me by Walter Wagner. Yotam Silberstein (guitars and oud), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), Adam Platt (piano), Billy Drummond (drums), Dana Leong (cello)
Picture of me by Walter Wagner. Yotam Silberstein (guitars and oud), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), Adam Platt (piano), Billy Drummond (drums), Dana Leong (cello)

Meanwhile, the rest of the band is amazing and we actually rehearsed (with Billy) and had more ideas. And I’ve had tons more since then. It’s hard to make myself go to bed even! I am so inspired by the subject and by my musicians (we have chemistry) – both their incredibe talent and their confidence in me (and mine in them). I can’t wait to go into the studio on Saturday and Sunday. I am so excited – and grateful – to be making this recording, and the more I think about it, the more important I think it is – speaking of runaway horses. I feel like I’m just riding this idea with no reins – clinging on and seeing where it’s going, hoping I don’t fall off (like I used to when I did real horse riding as a girl) because I really want to see where we end up. I have never been so excited to make a CD – and this will be my fifth.

In other news, my dear mentor, Mark Murphy died while I was in California. I was asked to write a tribute, which ended up being the Number One most read article in LondonJazzNews that week – which he totally deserved – and more. You can read it HERE.

w/ John Schiflett (bass) and David Udolf (piano) at Cafe Pink House, Saratoga, CA. Photo credit: Walter Wagner
w/ John Schiflett (bass) and David Udolf (piano) at Cafe Pink House, Saratoga, CA. Photo credit: Walter Wagner

And speaking of California, HERE   is one of the songs we are recording this weekend in a video made by someone who heard me the last time I was in Saratoga and asked if he could film me this time. Somehow one of the camera mics got messed up but I think it’s manageable. This is a trio version. When I record it for the album, I think I want to do it just duo with my fabulous cellist, Dana Leong – one of the ideas I had this week. But we’ll see how it goes in the studio. More to come. Meanwhile, here are some photographs of my trip to California.

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Picture credit" Walter Wagner
Picture credit Walter Wagner

 

My little trailer for two nights staying with dear friends Xandra and David and Jasmin
My little trailer for two nights staying with dear friends Xandra and David and Jasmin
Hanging out with one of my sweetest, oldest friends, Fordy, in Los Angeles
Hanging out with one of my sweetest, oldest friends, Fordy, in Los Angeles
It ended up being standing room only at Doc's Lab in San Francisco, where we had SUCH fun
It ended up being standing room only at Doc’s Lab in San Francisco, where we had SUCH fun
Jasmin's little tea set
Jasmin’s little tea set
Alisa Clancy and me before my KCSM radio Desert Island Jazz interview
Alisa Clancy and me before my KCSM radio Desert Island Jazz interview
My favorite airport. So retro
My favorite airport. So retro
The new tram in LA - not even operational yet
The new tram in LA – not even operational yet
Outside a jazz establishment where the Rat Pack used to hang
Outside a jazz establishment where the Rat Pack used to hang
Pool at house concert number 2
Pool at house concert number 2

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Egg provider at Xandra and David's
Egg provider at Xandra and David’s
My little trailer INSIDE for two nights staying with dear friends Xandra and David and Jasmin
My little trailer INSIDE for two nights staying with dear friends Xandra and David and Jasmin
Please note retro cowgirl curtain fabric
Please note retro cowgirl curtain fabric