Beyond the Blue

Nate Chinen – New York Times Critics Pick
“An astute and expressive jazz singer”

Neil Tesser – Chicago Examiner
“The beauty of this project lies in the synergy of melodies, lyrics and Souter’s consummate musicality, carried by her clarion, gently burnished timbre.”

Clive Davis – Sunday Times Number 6 on Top Ten best CDs of 2013

Clive Davis – Sunday Times Magazine
“The singer Tessa Souter assembles themes by Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven et al, affixing her own poetic but ungushing lyrics, delivered in a luscious timbre … Shimmers in the dark.”

Peter Quinn – Jazzwise **** (4/4 stars)
“… wonderful lyrics … unquestionably fine … Souter’s lustrous timbre works its magic from the scene-setting opener”

Dan Bilawsky – AllAboutJazz (**** 4 stars)
“Beyond The Blue is a beyond-beautiful collection of music that bridges the classical-jazz divide without issue.”

Siddhartha Mitter – Boston Globe
“Scintillating … haunting … poetic.”

Christopher Loudon – JazzTimes
“Tessa Souter spent months assembling these dozen tracks and her diligence has paid off magnificently… stunningly original.”

Scott Yannow – JazzIz Magazine
“A lovely voice, subtle creativity and a real skill at writing lyrics on this intriguing set.”

Thomas Cunniffe – Jazz History Online
“Her soulful, expressive voice caresses this music, and her flexible rhythmic sense enhances the lyrics … a beautifully modulated album.”

Victor L. Schermer –  (***** 5 stars)
“The original melodies are all there to be heard, but the mood and interpretation are totally Souter, and all in the jazz idiom, expressing nuances of romance, love and intimacy.”

George Fendel – Jazz Society of Oregon
“A singer of lesser skills could not have dreamed of making this work, but Souter, a singer without fluff and frills, might well be the ideal voice for this project.”

Charlene Gianetti – WomanAroundTown-DC
“… surprising, emotional, beautiful, thought-provoking, simply amazing.”

Michael J. West – Washington City Paper
“You can hear the smile in Tessa Souter’s contralto singing voice. It’s got the sheen of a dark stained wood, glassy and unblemished … startlingly fresh and poetic lyrics …”

Ken Dryden – New York Jazz Record
“…versatility and depth of feeling.”

Andrea Canter –
“…clear articulation, resonant contralto… elastic phrasing… heartfelt story-telling… And the result? one wonders, what if these classical composers had the opportunity to hear jazz and to work with artists like Tessa Souter?”

C. Michael Bailey – AllAboutJazz
“… all classical elegance and grace.”

Jim Wilke, Jazz After Hours, NPR
A first rate mix of the best of elements of jazz and classical music… I’m loving the CD”

Ron Netsky – Rochester City Paper
“This album is a bold move on Souter’s part. The strange thing is, it works so well that if you did not know any better, you just might mistake these tunes for jazz standards.”

Shaun Brady – Philadelphia City Paper
“For all the songs that have been written in the course of human history, most jazz singers confine themselves to a pitifully tiny batch of the same old standards. Tessa Souter has always possessed a more adventurous bent …. Beyond the Blue (Motéma) explores the music of European classical composers, from Beethoven to Debussy to Chopin. Born to a Trinidadian father and an English mother, raised in London and based in New York, Souter knows a thing or two about cultural hybridity. Beyond the Blue avoids the obvious jazz-classical crossover missteps, nixing the drippy strings and faux-operatic delivery for a strongly swinging band jamming on what an infomercial would call ‘some of the world’s greatest melodies’.”

Brent Black – Critical Jazz ***** (5 stars)
“Tessa Souter is one of the most innovative vocal talents on the scene today and with Beyond The Blue both her prodigious vocal talents as well as her gift as a lyricist shine through … a vocal master class of classical melodies transferred with the very best in jazz sensibilities …. the very heights of honest artistic passion … as prime and as on point as vocal music, not necessarily jazz gets for the devotee that is looking for quality and something that touches the heart and the mind”

Barry Bassis – New York Resident
“When it comes to jazz singing you can’t do better.”

Jordan Richardson – Something Else
“Prelude to the Sun’ opens the record with Locke’s arrangement and the popular second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. The piece is absolutely smouldering, kissed gently by Kuhn’s ivories and Souter’s eloquence. Locke’s vibes add the perfect midnight touch. ”

Richard B. Kamins – Step Tempest
“Her instrument is one that makes lyrics come alive, filled with but not overcome by emotion, real not forced – in these settings, she makes us see and hear myriad possibilities of interpretation which is, most assuredly, the essence of creative music. ”

Jill Pasternak – WRTI FM Radio
“It’s a wonderful album. The words are really fresh. It adds an enormous amount to the beautiful melodies. It brings them alive on another level and that’s a tribute to not only [her] voice but to [her] poetry … I think that is what’s exciting about the album. And I don’t get excited about things a lot. ”

Tyan Grillo –
“Between the early light of ‘Prelude To The Sun'(a luscious reimagining of the second movement from Beethoven’s 7th) and the glistening bossa inflections of ‘Brand New Day’ (based on Faure’s op. 24 Elegy) Souter charts a journey of great emotional distances.”

Stephen Graham – Marlbank (**** 4 stars)
“Tessa Souter has at last made her mark with [Beyond the Blue] following years of her being one to watch … a singer with a voice to believe in.”

Marc Myers –
“Tessa’s ‘Baubles, Bangles and Beads’ is one of the finest versions of this song ever recorded.”

George W. Harris –
“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.”

Paul Freeman – Pop CultureClassics
“Beyond jazz. Beyond pop. Beyond classical. With Beyond The Blue, … Souter and an outstanding combo, with subtlety and grace, have delicately shaped an album that’s beyond breathtaking. ”

Miles Jordan – Chico News 
“Souter works her magic on such items as Ravel’s “Pavane pour une infante défunte”… [The Lamp is Low] with some tasty vibraphone work by Joe Locke … while the title track is her haunting interpretation of Chopin’s “Prelude in E Minor,” which, like nine of the other dozen tracks, features her fascinating lyrics.”

Chris Parker – LondonJazz Blog
“…the surest of touches, never over-dramatising … Tehcnically, too, she is flawless, with superb diction and dynamic control.”

Lucid Culture – Lucid Culture
“… a tremendously compelling composer … So many vocal jazz albums put the band in the background: this is assuredly not one of them … Souter’s voice is the icing on the cake.”

Peter Bacon – Jazz Breakfast
“Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez … especially as sung by Souter and played by Frahm, [is] an essential addition to Miles and Jim Hall and the rest … It all makes for an exceptionally classy package. Highly recommended.”

Ron Simpson – The Jazz Rag
“Wonderfully original … Remarkably successful on all fronts.”

Ron Netsky – Rochester City Paper

“Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Chopin may not be known for jazz standards, but, then again, they didn’t live long enough to meet Tessa Souter. A captivating singer whether performing standards or originals, Souter made a bold move with her latest album. She took some of the greatest melodies in the history of classical music, wrote lyrics to them, and performed them in jazz arrangements. Amazingly, it worked; these tunes feel like standards. Souter has enchanted sold-out crowds at three Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festivals. When she takes the stage at Lovin’ Cup, she will be accompanied by the excellent John Nyerges Trio.