Tina May – My Kinda Love
(Hep CD 2101. CD Review by Peter Vacher)
Tina May has always followed her own star, often popping up in challenging or off-beat situations. The root of her talent, though, as Hep producer Alistair Robertson emphasises in his sleeve-note, lies in her jazz sensibility. May is a true jazz singer, at ease with jazz musicians and content to operate in a jazz context. All of this is reaffirmed here where she works mostly with an accomplished small group, the arrangements largely in the hands of a regular collaborator, the saxophonist and bandleader Frank Griffith, but with the added layering of a string quartet on four of the dozen tracks. Robertson sees this new album as a follow-on to Divas, also on Hep, the song choices far from routine with the added bonus of two original compositions by the veteran tenor-saxophonist Duncan Lamont.
The title track is a relaxed hymn to love from 1929, Tina at one with the swinging background, Sammy Mayne’s alto prominent. In complete contrast, her reading of Lazy Afternoon, arranged by John Jannson, complete with its Satie-esque piano introduction, is languorous and heartfelt, the strings overlaid softly by the Griffith clarinet. Tina’s ability to move between vocal registers is notable here. Bassist Dave Green sets up Tina’s perky treatment of S’Posin’, this adorned by the welcome presence of trumpeter Janusz Carmello, Griffith spirited on clarinet ahead of John Pearce’s superb piano solo.
There’s evidence throughout this absorbing album of careful forethought, each track given a distinctive setting, Tina’s honeyed sound and perfect intonation applied as effectively to up-tempo swingers as they are to its more thoughtful pieces, each set of lyrics given proper attention. Nothing muddled or over-stretched here. Good to hear composer Lamont’s tenor-saxophone on his mellow Where Were You In April and Frank’s impressive tenor on A Sunday Kind of Love, Tina ‘positively flirtatious’ on this one in Robertson’s words. The final song, I’m Through With Love, taken slow, teams Tina with the duo of Pearce and Carmello, the trumpeter’s Braff-like solo entry quite breath-taking.
Helpfully detailed notes from Robertson and good session photography round out a quality release. Recommended.