Tina May

N'Oublie Jamais (Jazz Piquant)

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Tina May continues her exploration of out of the ordinary, but tasteful, selections from the world's songbook in her latest album for the British 33Jazz label. This time around she has corralled pre-eminent reedman Tony Coe as well as other outstanding musicians to share the spotlight. May's albums continue to be filled with surprises. In previous outings, she usually sang a tune or two in French. Here the entire program is done in Gaelic, except for "I Love Paris." Because she performs in Europe and because of the well-known suspicion the French have of anyone (especially the English) who attempt to speak their beloved language, May had to have supreme confidence in her linguistic skills to pull it off. And she does with ease, elan, and aplomb. What helps is that on the program are either French tunes or songs that just sound good sung in that language. Some of the titles when translated into English are familiar, like "Que Reste-t-Il" which is "I Wish You Love" and "Sous le Ciel de Paris," which is "Under Paris Skies." Whatever the language, all the offerings are outstanding and will attract listener attention. There's Django Reinhardt's charming "Nuages" as guitar player Alec Coburn and violinist John Francis assume the mantles of Django Reinhardt/Stephane Grappelli as they collaborate to provide superb backing allowing May's voice to waft in, out, and around the harmonies created by the two instruments. One might well argue that Francis should have had equal billing with May and Coe since his violin is out front on several cuts. Reinhardt's "Anouman" belongs entirely to him as an instrumental. But la pièce resistance is the album's final track, "April in Paris." Kicking off with the fluttering sax fingering by Coe underscored by Brian Dee's ruminative piano as Coe plays above the melody line, May works her unique vocal magic on the Cole Porter classic. With her crystalline, pure voice and her impeccable diction, whether in English or in French, mixed with outstanding instrumentalists as they all perform an interesting, well-arranged play list, this album is a joy to listen to. It shows why Tina May continues to be a dominant force on the European jazz scene.

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