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“Astute and expressive.” Nate Chinen, NEW YORK TIMES
“Scintillating, haunting, poetic.” Siddhartha Mitter, BOSTON GLOBE
“Stunningly original and utterly compelling.” Peter Quinn, JAZZWISE
“Shimmers in the dark.” Clive Davis, SUNDAY TIMES (UK)
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Born in London of English and Trinidadian parents, New York-based vocalist-songwriter, Tessa Souter, grew up “predisposed to the blend of cultures reflected in her music, which contains Middle Eastern, Brazilian and flamenco elements in an airy jazz framework.” (Philadelphia City Paper). The Downbeat Critics Poll Rising Star “shimmers in the dark” says the London Sunday Times – which placed her album, Beyond the Blue (Venus-Motema), # 6 on the Best Albums of 2013 along with Gregory Porter (# 3) and Stacey Kent (#10). Heralded by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the few exceptional standouts in the crowded field of female jazz singers,” Tessa’s “truly beautiful voice” (Sirius Radio) and penchant for exploring music mostly untouched by other singers have set her apart as “one of the finest and most fearless vocalists to have emerged in recent years.” (Boston Globe).
“Broadly imaginative” (New York Times). “Expressive . . . full of passion” (Philadelphia Inquirer), NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan puts her “at the top of my list of great talent. She really moves me.” As Ms. Jordan told the Boston Globe: “She’s a very giving person. And that’s what she does with her music. She gives it.” Tessa earned a scholarship to Manhattan School of Music, but dropped out after one semester, preferring to hone her craft in a mentorship with the inimitable vocalist Mark Murphy, who offered her free lessons in return for help booking his masterclasses. “Of course I said yes. I studied with him for four fantastic years, followed by many more as a close friend and mentor.”
Tessa has since performed all over the world, including Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Mezzrow, the Blue Note, Jazz Standard and Joe’s Pub, New York; Pizza Express, Ronnie Scott’s and the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, UK; Blue Brass, Palermo, Italy; Dr Gab’s, Geneva, Switzerland; four sold out tours of the Russian philharmonic halls; and six appearances at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, where, in 2015, she was chosen from over 1,000 festival performers to be one of four filmed by PBS Television. Her 2017 appearance was picked by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle as the “one show overall not to miss.” Her invariably standing-room-only monthly residency at Greenwich Village’s iconic 55 Bar is in its 14th year.
Tessa has performed and recorded with Steve Kuhn, Alan Broadbent, Kenny Werner, Yotam Silberstein, David Gilmore, Marvin Sewell, Yasushi Nakamura, Billy Drummond, Dana Leong, Lew Soloff, Romero Lubambo, Alec Dankworth, Nikki Iles, Jim Hart, Lynne Arriale and Howard Johnson. She has made four critically-acclaimed CDs (including two for the multi-Grammy-nominated Motéma label). She is currently working on her upcoming release, Picture in Black and White – a tribute to the ancestors of her mixed-race heritage. “Finding out at age 28 that my father was black was a seismic shift in consciousness,” she says.
Whether performing in philharmonic halls or in the intimacy of a small jazz club, “Tessa Souter is a beguiling artist who infuses everything she interprets with voluptuous intelligence and keen emotional insight.” (KQED Arts). “Best of all, she delivers it with a wit and a wink worthy of the toniest joints in town.” (Time Out New York)
LISTEN TO TRACKS
Eleanor Rigby Obsession (Motéma, 2009) – John Lennon/Paul McCartney
Nara’s Song/Little Sunflower Obsession (Motéma, 2009) – Freddie Hubbard/Tessa Souter
Moon and Sand Nights of Key Largo (Venus, 2008) – Alec Wilder
The Island Nights of Key Largo (Venus, 2008) – Ivan Lins/Marilyn and Alan Bergman
Chiaroscuro Beyond the Blue (Venus-Motéma, 2013) – Tomaso Albinoni/Tessa Souter
More live reviews HERE