Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Tessa Souter’s Beyond the Blue Is Beyond Fun

Tessa Souter is best known as a jazz singer, but she’s also a tremendously compelling composer, with a blend of torchy bluesiness and neoromanticism that often goes deep into noir. Even now, vocal jazz still borrows disproportionately from the past, so Souter’s reliance on her own material immediately sets her apart. That, and her minutely jeweled soprano. Clear, nuanced and glistening, Souter employs it eclectically, shifting in a split-second from misty lustre to moody resonance to neon-lit exuberance, depending on where the lyrics go. Wherever that is, that’s where she is, always with a torch, illuminating everything that comes her way. She also has a subtly quirky sense of humor that reminds of Blossom Dearie in places. She’s at Dizzy’s Club on April 10 at 7:30 and 9:30, leading a quartet with Christian Tamburr on vibraphone, Keita Ogawa on percussion and Boris Kozlov on bass. No doubt they will be playing material from Souter’s excellent new album Beyond the Blue, which is streaming all the way through at her Bandcamp page.

Souter works all the angles on the opening track, Prelude to the Sun, considering every line, from steamy, to shiny, smiling glimmer, Joe Locke’s vibraphone handing off gracefully to Joel Frahm’s alto sax, Billy Drummond adding richly glistening tones on his hardware. She shifts gracefully from boudoir sultriness to unrestrained joy in the absolutely lurid The Lamp Is Low, a richly noir clave tune lowlit by Locke’s marvelously suspenseful lines that Frahm takes even deeper into the shadows. The seductive Dance with Me plays off Steve Kuhn’s hypnotically minimalist pedalpoint piano in the same vein as Jenifer Jackson’s more jazz-oriented material.

Chiaroscuro sets Souter’s silky sostenuto over terse neoromantic piano that updates the Albinoni original by a couple of centuries, Frahm’s richly blues-infused alto adding a casual apprehension.  The most trad tunes here are Darkness of Your Eyes (a Ravel remake) and My Reverie, both nonchalant swing numbers that look back to Ellington and Strayhorn in the 30s – neither would be out of place in the Catherine Russell repertoire. En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor offers a lush, otherworlly take on the famous Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo, as lustrous if considerably more stripped-down than the Gil Evans arrangement, David Fink’s echoey, swooping bowed bass contrasting with Locke’s reflecting-pool ambience.

Sunrise mines a subtle early dawn atmosphere, Souter’s gentle vocals over Drummond’s meticulous, marvelous whisperiness as it grows into a jazz waltz. Souter’s cover of Baubles, Bangles and Beads gets a cheerfully sleek treatment, Locke and Kuhn teaming up for an intertwining glimmer as it crescendos out. The title track is a totally noir jazz remake of the Chopin E Minor Prelude, Souter’s distant ache a sort of female counterpart to late 50s Sinatra suicide saloon songcraft.

Noa’s Dream remakes a Schubert serenade as a jazz waltz, Frahm’s precision setting the stage for Locke’s swinging red-neon lyricism. The album winds up hauntingly with Brand New Day, blending slinky clave and French musette, Gary Versace’s jaunty accordion paired up with the vibraphone over a dancing rhythm section. So many vocal jazz albums put the band in the background: this is assuredly not one of them. That this would be a treat to hear purely as instrumentals attests to the intelligence and passion of the songcraft and musicianship; Souter’s voice is the icing on the cake.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 6/1/09

We do this every week. You’ll see this week’s #1 song on our Best 100 songs of 2009 list at the end of December, along with maybe some of the rest of these too. This is strictly for fun – it’s Lucid Culture’s tribute to Kasey Kasem and a way to spread the word about some of the great music out there that’s too edgy for the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere. Every link here will take you to each individual song.

 

1. The Jazz Funeral – Goodnight (Is How I Say Goodbye)

Gentrification and greed as metaphor for the end of a relationship in this fiery janglerock masterpiece – the political as very personal. They’re at Ace of Clubs on 6/6 at 8.

 

2. Edison Woods – Praises & Scrutiny

The latest single from the forthcoming Wishbook Singles cd by the world’s best 6/8 band, lush and haunting as usual

 

3. Tessa Souter – You Don’t Have to Believe

Dark jazz siren with eerie Middle Eastern and flamenco tinges. She’s at 55 Bar at 6 on 6/12.  

 

4. Marni Rice – Priere

Noir accordionist/chanteuse. Haunting, with a string quartet. She’s at Small Beast at the Delancey on 6/25 around 10.

 

5. Black Sea Hotel – Dimjaninka

Haunting hypnotic Bulgarian folk tune arranged for four voices by Brooklyn’s own Bulgarian vocal choir. They’re at Union Pool at 9 on 6/4

 

6. Jo Williamson – Sheepish

Tuneful bittersweet and soulful, like Cat Power without the vocal pretensions.

 

7. Veveritse Brass Band – Samirov Cocek

Typically blistering Balkan madness. They’re at Union Pool on 6/4

 

8. Barbara Dennerlein with Emily RemlerStormy Monday

Scroll down to the middle of the page for this amazing clip from German tv, 1986. Dennerlein – maybe the greatest organist of our time – is her usual amazing self but it’s the late Emily Remler’s offhandedly savage yet obviously opiated solo that makes it.

 

9. Mattison – Yver

Beautiful electric piano triphop tune, Greta Gertler meets Bee & Flower. They’re at Duck Duck, 161 Montrose btw Graham & Humboldt at 5 PM on 6/7 for Bushwick open studios.

 

10. The Courtesy Tier – Set Things Right

Blistering, noisy bluespunk from this guitar/drums duo. They’re at the Rockwood on 6/4 and the Delancey on 6/6

June 2, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment