Blues Alley is an intimate setting for a jazz quartet and the singer, Tessa Souter, made it even more so on Monday evening, October 21, with an eclectic selection of songs that displayed her range and allowed each of her talented musicians to shine. Her performance was bookended with two familiar yet very different tunes—the melancholy “Eleanor Rigby” to begin the set and the upbeat “Just One of Those Things” to conclude—while in between her selections included several songs that she has truly made her own.
Looking glamorous and exotic in a glittering top and bright coral slacks, her hair in a top knot and gold filigree earrings swinging from her ears, Tessa sang, chatted, and looked on in appreciation with each instrumental solo. And these musical intervals were fabulous with Allyn Johnson on piano, James King Junior on bass, and Lenny Robinson on drums.
The standout number was “The Lamp Is Low,” the melody, Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane” with lyrics by Mitchell Parish. The song, from her album, Beyond the Blue, is a fan favorite and Tessa’s rendition this time around did not disappoint. Tessa enjoys taking classical pieces, that have been updated with her lyrics, including nine out of 12 songs on her Beyond the Blue album. Melodies by the masters given a masterly touch with Tessa’s interpretation.
Tessa keeps a busy travel schedule and her international image is never more apparent than when she is singing “Siren Song” (Vicki Burns). Her voice rising, Tessa brings to mind a call to the faithful in a land far away. We ride the wave of her voice feeling ourselves transported to a different time and place. Then we are back in the present, swaying to the rhythms of “Dance with Me,” something she once performed at a tribute to Frank Sinatra, and “I’m Old Fashioned” (Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer). Both gems. Just like the singer.
Beyond the Blue