On the jazz scene for more than 15 years, Tina May is one of U.K.'s premiere jazz vocal virtuosos. Culling her material from several sources including jazz standards, pop, and ethnic music, she presents it in different vocal styles as vocalese, cabaret, and improvisation, among others. Possessing a delightful, pure English voice which fits nicely with her material, May continues to do her own thing in jazz with this her seventh album for 33Jazz.
This six-track set kicks off with the piquant "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and segues into a boppish "One Fine Day" with a notable soprano saxophone solo from Alan Barnes and scatting from May. Ballad skills are brought to bear on a medium tempo "I'll Be Seeing You," highlighted by another conspicuous sax solo from Barnes, this time on tenor. May turns hipster on "Bop 'til You Drop (Bop People)" for which she wrote the lyrics. Again displaying her willingness to handle different material and backed by Barnes' clarinet, she does an A.E. Housman poem put to music by John Ireland on "The Vain Desire." A modern Chick Corea/Tony Cohen "The Aerialist" features some over-dubbed scatting by May behind alto sax work by the ubiquitous Mr. Barnes.
Throughout the album, May gets strong support from her fellow performers. Barnes moving from reed to reed, is present on almost every cut. Nikki Iles' piano is another source of strength for May. Iles is especially prominent on "Whaley Whaley." Nowhere on the album is the purity of May's voice and phrasing more striking than on this anonymously written, Irish-sounding folk song. The other two members of the rhythm session, Mick Hutton and Simon Morton, are not asked to do much more than maintain the beat, a task they perform with distinction. One Fine Day is highly recommended.