Born in West Berlin on April 10, 1985, Eva Patricia Kesselring spent several years of her early childhood in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. By the time she was five her family had settled in Bern, Switzerland, where she still lives today. Growing up, she sang children’s songs in German, English, Portuguese, French, and Swiss German with her family, and Kess made quick progress on piano, her first instrument. Trained in the European classical tradition, she was devoted and talented enough to perform a Bach piano concerto with a symphony orchestra as a young teen, while also studying classical ballet. As a high school student, she analyzed Paul Hindemith’s “Trauermusik” (Funeral Music), originally composed for viola and string orchestra, and performed the orchestra part on the piano. “The piece was composed and performed on the same day - and the harmonic movement is simply perfect, everything makes complete sense,” she notes of the early 20th-century piece.
She experienced a life-altering epiphany at 17 when she happened to miss her bus and stumbled across an al fresco performance by a double-bass quartet playing “super beautiful music that blew my mind,” she recalls. “They were playing bass lines, melodies, middle lines, rhythmic, percussive stuff, and having so much fun together.”
She’d already been thinking about starting a new instrument so she could play more easily with other musicians, and she suddenly found her calling. Around the same time a friend took her to a jazz concert with a trio consisting of trumpet, guitar, and bass. At the end of the show, she approached the bassist Lorenz Beyeler and lined up lessons. “I’d been asking my piano teachers for more rhythmic pieces,” Kess says. “I was searching for something else. I didn’t have the word or term for what it was, but it might have been jazz.”