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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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  1. I’ll Take Romance
  2. I’ve Got a Crush on You
  3. How Long Has This Been Going On?
  4. Come Fly With Me
  5. September in the Rain
  6. Tonight I Shall Sleep
  7. Trust In Me
  8. Nobody Else But Me
  9. I Do It For Love
  10. I Only Have Eyes for You
  11. Quietly There

Tina May – Vocals
Nikki Iles – Piano
Robin Aspland – Piano
Alec Dankworth – Bass
Tristan Maillot – Drums

Recorded in London 2/3 April 2002

Tina May didn’t get to be a top quality jazz singer by accident, she attended vocal studies at University College, Cardiff and took the opportunity to listen to the many jazz ‘greats’ who were at that time appearing in the regular sessions at the Great Western Hotel in Cardiff. Her course included languages and she elected to visit Paris for a year as part of her educational programme. During that stay she sang at Le Slow Club and with the Big Band of Roger Guerin, the drummer with the band was none other than Kenny Clarke, the father of all modern jazz drummers. On returning to the UK she appeared on the jazz festival circuit for some years before moving to London. There she worked with a French Speaking Theatre Company, this gave her a chance for some more quality listening at Ronnie Scott’s. After leaving the theatre she decided to make jazz singing her full time career and appearances with the BBC Big Band and Stan Tracey’s Band followed.

In 1993, the Worshipful Company of Musician’s awarded her a Silver Medal. It coincided with her first week as at the Ronnie Scott Club! The touring now became international and in 1998 she was presented with the vocal jazz award at the BT Jazz Awards. She has made several CD’s and this is the latest, it includes American Tenor Sax Star Scott Hamilton, they had worked together many times before and Scott in fact helped to produce the album and wrote a sleeve note. This then is a performance by a singer who has served her time and absorbed what jazz is all about.

The title track is that exceptional Oscar Hammerstein song ‘I’ll Take Romance’. It is not the easiest of songs to work with and here both Tina and the group show that they are not to be confused with the average. The rhythm section is excellent and the change to 3/4 to 4/4 makes for interesting listening.

The verse is an important part of ‘I’ve Got a Crush on You’ and here it is performed very well and is a nice contrast to the bossa nova tempo of the chorus. Scott delivers his immaculate solo work and also adds a great deal to the ensemble backings. Another Gershwin song follows ‘How Long Has This Been Going On’, Tina has a great jazz feel to everything she does and Robin Aspland and Scott Hamilton take excellent solos.

‘Come Fly With Me’ has enjoyed a great flood of popularity since the version (not this one) that the same team made for the Easyjet Airline show. It demonstrates something I have long thought the general public would really appreciate the great songbook, if only they had a chance to hear it!

September In the Rain is sung in French on the first chorus, this time Nikki Iles is on piano, but the overall sound is the same and the tempo just right for the song.

‘Tonight I Shall Sleep with a Smile on My face’ is a Duke Ellington tune, like many of the Duke’s melodies it has a haunting quality about it. Tina handles it very well as do the rest of the band, particularly Scott Hamilton. Trust In Me, I think comes from ‘The Jungle Book’, not the first place you would look for a song for a jazz album, but it works well as does ‘Nobody Else but Me’ a Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein tune that should be heard more often.

The Paul Simon song ‘I Do it for Your Love’, is one of his typical story telling compositions, it is not my favourite kind of stuff, but Tina’s version convinced me that it is worth listening to. Nikki Iles helps a lot with superb accompaniment and a short but excellent solo. The two remaining tracks ‘I Only Have Eyes’ and Johnny Mandel’s ‘Quietly There’ are ideal for this album.

Tina May on the evidence of this album is the complete article, a jazz singer who can comfortably work with the best in the world. She has absorbed the skills of others and packaged them into a style of her own. Everyone involved is to be congratulated on the excellence of this album.


Don Mather


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