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!

 

Home! New York! Despite driving rain, the 55 Bar was absolutely packed for both sets last night. And, as well as our beloved regulars, there were tons of new people there…. I felt utterly redeemed after California. Fire. Rain. Lonely days that you think will never end. Nothing stops New York-uhs, especially 55-uhs.!

THIS IS A PICTURE I TOOK OF NEW YORK IN THE RAIN A FEW WEEKS BACK. NOTE PEOPLE WALKING ABOUT IN IT.

So are just some of the reasons we love the 55:

1. It is an amazing place to work out new stuff and experiment in a no-pressure environment in front of a loving, receptive audience! Last night I threw all this stuff at Jason and Victor that we had never done before, Round Midnight, Just One of Those Things and other [gasp!] STANDARDS — which I almost never do but have, lately, rediscovered after a long long rest — and they did an great job, unfettered by the spectre of people sitting with arms and legs crossed miming “show me!”

2. You never know who will be in the audience. The President of East Timor came one night — admittedly he was brought by a friend, but it was very exciting and everyone wanted to know who was there who could possibly need the (extremely OBVIOUS) bodyguard who was at the bar looking like one of the baddies in the Matrix (too muscular for his suit with a curly wire protruding from behind his ear, like Agent Smith). THIS IS A PICTURE OF AGENT SMITH. Not at the 55 Bar.

3. We always sell CDs — although last night, RIGHT IN FRONT OF someone who had emailed me in advance to ask me to save my one remaining copy of Nights of Key Largo (Venus), I sold it to a young woman who wanted to buy the CD with “the sex song” on it (AKA’The Island’) because I thought he wasn’t coming. Yikes! Luckily, my latest shipment has arrived from Japan and is ready to pick up. To hear/buy any of my CDs check this link Tessa’s Music

4. The bar staff — led by their fearless leader, Tara — serve up magical potions with diverse names like “beer” and “wine” and “cocktail” but which all have the same marvelous effect of making you feel kind of warm and squiffy inside!

5. I’ve been playing there for more than six years every month, since the late and great Queva (that’s a picture of us hugging) gave me my first gig there in May 2003

and turned it into a “home” gig for me. Other “regulars”  include jazz giants Chris Potter and Mike Stern, and Motema (who put out my latest CD Obsession) label-mate, the amazing singer-songwriter KJ Denhert.  Queva once surprised me with a huge birthday cake and free champagne for everyone on a gig I did near my birthday, and then she did it again to celebrate my third anniversary of playing there.

6. Everybody knows your name! It’s like Cheers with good music. They even know my mum! (Pictured with me below — at the bar … hic!)