Tribute

Tina May. A Tribute by Paul Jolly.

Record producer Paul Jolly released almost two dozen albums by Tina May. Here he writes in tribute to the vocalist who has passed away far too early, on Saturday 26 March 2022. In sadness.

Tina May, Royal Albert Hall, May 2013. Photo credit: Melody McLaren

Paul Jolly writes: With the passing of Tina May I believe the world has lost one of the truly great jazz vocalists. Our work together for ‘33’ goes back over 30 years and I’ve had the privilege to see her perform in venues large and small and recording in studios from Abbey Road to Rudy Van Gelder’s in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, from studios in Paris and to backrooms in Luton. In each, Tina treated every challenge as the consummate professional artist – she was simply the best.

Over the years she has worked and inspired everyone who had the good fortune to work alongside her and be taught by her. Her list of collaborators reads as a Who’s Who of the UK jazz community.

She also performed and recorded with major international artists including Ray Bryant, Enrico Pieranunzi and Patrick Villanueva and whatever the situation, whatever creative madness surrounded her she had the natural ability to calm everything by a beautiful smile or by using her perfectly timed sense of humour.

From her first album ‘Never Let Me Go’ to what would be her last, ‘52nd Street’ – the beautiful tribute to Duncan Lamont and via all the albums in-between Tina created a special irresistible magic that drew and captivated audiences around the world.

Never Let Me Go: The first album on 33 Jazz

The plans we had for other albums will not now be possible and the sadness for the loss is unbearable.

Over the last few days I’ve been asked many times what I thought was her ‘best’ album – an understandable question at this dreadful time but impossible to answer.

I can just see Tina laughing as we would sip a ‘cuppa’ and discuss the impossible response.

However, If there’s one album that stays with and travels with me always it would be ‘Change of Sky’ – recorded in a day, under exceptional circumstances, this duo album with Tina alongside her great friend and long-time collaborator Nikki Iles is simply as good as it possibly can get.

So many wonderful memories – but to myself and my beloved daughter Phoebe, Tina was so much more than this shining presence from the stage. She was a dear dear friend who had supported us though the most difficult of times.

Over the years she had always signed off our meetings, phone calls and emails with those unforgettable words ‘onwards and upwards – dog & bone?’. It’s beyond reasoning that this beautiful joyful person has been taken from us so early.

LINKS: Tina May artist page at 33 Jazz Records

RIP Tina May (1961-2022) – with several comments/ tributes

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5 replies »

  1. I’ve not got every one of Tina’s albums but I have a fair representation of them. I would agree with ‘Change Of Sky’ as being my favourite and it’s the one I keep coming back to. The title track is sublime and it’s a song that I don’t recall ever hearing performed by anybody else. The combination of Tina’s voice and Nikki’s accompaniment is magical. RIP Tina x

  2. Dreadful news, Paul, I was so so shocked to hear this. Tina’s time with the my band The Kimbara Brothers in 1992 was magical, she elevated the band so much. I spent a fair bit of time with her in those days, she was always after baby sitters for Ben! She will be sorely missed in the Jazz world, one of the best.

  3. Each album is a masterclass. I agree, ‘Change of Sky’ is a special favourite – full of humanity.
    Tina May shines so brightly, always has, always will.

  4. Tina was a brilliant singer and also a lovely person who made organising gigs and festivals so much easier

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