Jesi' Terrell | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jesi' Terrell 

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Local blues singer Jesi' Terrell is coming out of her shell. On her 2000 debut, Come Get This Love, her talent for nuance and understatement made it easy to forgive her uncertain phrasing and intonation: on ballads she reinforced her vulnerable, kittenish croon with an undercurrent of resolve, and on more aggressive fare she steered clear of cheap hoochie-mama posturing. Onstage, though, she still had a frustrating tendency to remain in a slow or midtempo ballad groove for an entire set. But over the past year her live show has evolved rapidly: she now takes on hot-blooded anthems (Ann Peebles's "Breaking Up Somebody's Home," for instance, or a juiced-up version of her own "Man Sitting") where she can break into a ferocious, full-bodied wail, invoking the combination of lust and aggression that's so basic to the blues. Her version of "Can I Change My Mind" transforms the Tyrone Davis standard from a plea into a demand, and on the classic cheating song "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" she sounds like she'd sooner spit in the devil's eye than admit she's sinned. Terrell has always had a knack for conveying the sensuality of the blues, and these days she's learning to handle the danger in the music too. Howard Scott & the World Band open (and serve as Terrell's backup group). Saturday, May 1, 10 PM, Rosa's Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage; 773-342-0452.

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