EFG London Jazz Festival 2023

Tessa Souter

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Last Show: Friday 10 th November 2023

The Pheasantry (Chelsea)

There are many singers who can wow us with vocal prowess, yet there’s something raw and real about hearing Tessa Souter sing. Basically a self-taught musician, she is not afraid to take big risks in her performances with surprising takes on often just as surprisingly un-standard repertoire, from jazz arrangements of ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ Cream’s ‘White Room’ and Nick Drake’s ‘River Man’ to covers of Brazilian compositions by Milton Nascimento and Dori Caymmi, modern jazz tunes by Wayne Shorter and Kenny Barron, originals such as her own mesmerizing ‘Usha’s Wedding’ and superb arrangements of classical stuff by Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy and others. 

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“Beauty, truth, and honest self-expression.”


London-born, New York-based Tessa Souter is an extraordinary live performer, heralded by the LA Times and Time Out New York as “world class” and a “must-see.” A six-time festival favorite at the Xerox International Jazz Festival, Tessa’s 2017 appearance there was singled out by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, from a star-studded roster, as “the one show not to miss” over the entire nine-day festival. And she recently returned from a three-week sold out tour of the Russian philharmonic halls as the featured guest of Russian piano star, Daniel Kramer, receiving standing ovations at each show. Her new CD, Picture in Black and White, the second of her albums to be a London Sunday Times magazine Top Ten Jazz Record of the Year, was inspired by her discovery, upon meeting him at age 28, that her birth father was black, having been brought up to believe he was white – and the son of a Spanish flamenco dancer. It’s a riveting journey tracing the artist’s “musical DNA” from Africa to the Caribbean, Celtic Britain and Andalusian Spain, via the music of Wayne Shorter (who granted her shared writing credit on ‘Ana Maria’), Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow, Milton Nascimento, Ayub Ogada, U2 and more. A jazz vocalist with a sumptuous sound and an unerring ear for fresh and unexpected material, ever since the release of her 2004 debut, Listen Love, she has cast an increasingly wide net, from contributing original lyrics to instrumental jazz standards and re-imagining classic British rock, to her Third Stream project, Beyond the Blue, a 2013 London Sunday Times Top Ten Record of the Year, starring Steve Kuhn, Joe Locke, David Finck, Joel Frahm, Gary Versace and Billy Drummond, and featuring her original lyrics to classical gems. In a rave review in the Chicago Examiner, Grammy Award-winning journalist and radio host, Neil Tesser, called it “the most frankly romantic album I’ve heard this year,” praising her “exhilaratingly mature lyrics” and “clarion, gently burnished timbre.”

Tessa Souter (vocals)

Robin Apsland (piano)

Neville Malcolm (bass)

Ernesto Simpson (drums)