Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

58

Tessa Souter: Beyond The Blue

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
The mere mention of jazz-classical hybridization may draw scowls from jazz fans who've encountered more than their fare share of ill-conceived projects that trade in on this idea, but vocalist Tessa Souter avoids all the usual pitfalls. Beyond The Blue isn't about joining these worlds at the hip; it's about using the frameworks and melodies of classical works as the foundation and scaffolding for new ideas.

Souter saunters her way through a dozen alluring pieces built around the work of Beethoven, Borodin and Chopin, amongst others, but she never apes the originals or resorts to cheap, paint-by-numbers, swinging-the-classics gimmickry. She works with warm colors and relaxed moodiness, avoiding overly bright sounds or notions for the majority of the album. While each piece is full of emotive expressionism, Souter never overplays her hand in the music and she always finds a way to weave her lyrics into the textural fabric of the whole. Some singers make their mark by standing in front of, or apart from, their bands, but Souter revels in the integrative possibilities at hand.

The seed of inspiration for this project was pianist Steve Kuhn's take on Chopin's "Prelude In E Minor"—from Pavane For A Dead Princess (Venus, 2006)—and the trio from that album provides masterful support and companionship for Souter during this journey. Kuhn's piano can be ruminative or rousing, but his touch is always sensitive and suffused with color, and the rhythm tandem of bassist David Finck and drummer Billy Drummond is to-die-for. Finck can be alternately springy or sound of body and Drummond can play it loose or tight with equal skill.

The ensemble is rounded out with vibraphonist Joe Locke, saxophonist Joel Frahm and accordion ace Gary Versace, who help to provide added depth and descriptive details to the music. All three men mix noir-ish elements and chamber jazz ideals into these works. On the solo front, Kuhn, Locke and Frahm garner the most attention, but Finck also makes a few noteworthy contributions along the way.

While Souter includes a few classics that were previously cut from the same classical-to-jazz cloth ("Baubles, Bangles And Beads"), the majority of the numbers are new-old works, with her own lyrics grafted onto organically shaped bodies built by the band. Everything from Joaquin Rodrigo's jazz-associated work to Tomaso Albinoni's off-the-well-known-path "Adagio In G Minor" are putty in Souter's capable hands, as she molds them into fine works of art. Beyond The Blue is a beyond-beautiful collection of music that bridges the classical-jazz divide without issue.

Track Listing: Prelude To The Sun; The Lamp Is Low; Dance With Me; Chiaroscuro; My Reverie; En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor; Sunrise; Baubles, Bangles And Beads; Beyond The Blue; The Darkness Of Your Eyes; Noa's Dreams; Brand New Day.

Personnel: Tessa Souter: vocals; Steve Kuhn: piano; David Finck: bass; Billy Drummond: drums; Joe Locke: vibraphone; Gary Versace: accordion; Joel Frahm: saxophones.

Title: Beyond The Blue | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Motema Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bricks CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017
Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Irmãos De Fé" CD/LP/Track Review Irmãos De Fé
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "First Set" CD/LP/Track Review First Set
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 6, 2017
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Liquid Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Liquid Melodies
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Wobbly Dance Flower" CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Dance Flower
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 22, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!