Hexham Courant – Gig Review


Tessa takes home crowd by storm

Published at 09:45, Friday, 23 April 2010
A GLANCE around the Queens Hall café earlier in Hexham this month showed the universal appeal of jazz to an audience crossing the generations.
The attraction, Tessa Smith, a former pupil at the town’s Queen Elizabeth High School, gave an incomparable performance resonant of Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone at their best, but with a twist.
Tessa had adapted many of the classics, some of her improvisation drawing on her school days. After studying jazz at university she is setting out on her career as a jazz singer in the finest of traditions and on this evidence is assured of success.
She has a natural passion and feel for the music, a feature of the evening.
Tessa and her equally talented trio – mention must be made of the lyrical piano playing of Aidan Shepherd – simply enjoyed their music making and shared that pleasure with an equally appreciative audience.
Tessa notably drew on wider influences, new for some, including Kurt Elling, and introduced notes from John Coltrane and Dexter Gordon in particular during her sensitive rendering of the evergreen Sunny.
Equally impressive and destined to become standards were her own compositions of Waves and I don’t like it.
This was a feel good evening lit up by Tessa’s disarming and smiling personality and undoubted talent for jazz, a not-to-be-missed event when she returns, as surely she will if the reception of the audience is any indication.
Tessa’s first and much acclaimed CD Bookmark is now out and marks the start of what promises to be an exciting journey for the artist and her audience alike.
Barrie Dowdeswell



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