There aren’t too many vocalists who can get fans to come out in the midst of a monsoon. Tessa Souter is one. Her performance Tuesday evening, July 15, at Blues Alley, provided more than just shelter from the storm. Tessa, accompanied by an outstanding trio of musicians, delivered a varied program featuring some of her favorite songs and some new additions. She changed up tempo and emotions, taking us to the depths of despair – “I will forget how it was at the start, before hello and goodbye” – then to the heights – “All or Nothing at All” – and everything in between.
Tessa comes too infrequently to D.C. (jazz venues, please take note), so the chance to see her perform no doubt motivated those who braved the elements. She appears regularly at Bar 55 in Greenwich Village, and her two upcoming engagements include Jazz in the Garden at the Newark Museum on July 31, and the Iridium on September 10.
Great musicians like to appear with great vocalists, and this time around Tessa was backed up by Allyn Johnson on piano, James King Junior on bass, and Lenny Robinson on drums. Tessa, who gave each one time to shine, seemed as mesmerized as the audience by the talent of these three musicians.
Those who have had the pleasure to see Tessa perform know that her vocal talent is just part of her popularity. Simply stated: she connects with the music, the musicians, and the audience. With her comments in between her songs, she brings fans inside her creative process, sharing her thoughts on specific selections and why she loves to perform these pieces. Before she was a singer, Tessa was a writer, perhaps one reason her lyrics are so articulate and meaningful. Her set list this time out included selections from her Beyond the Blue album (read our review), and one she hopes to include on a future CD, “A Taste of Honey.”
Opening photo and bottom photo by Brendan Ward