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
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.