Tina May's 9th album for Britain's 33Jazz label is a live performance from one of Paris' most coveted jazz venues, the Jazz Club Lionel Hampton. It's also deja vu for May. She used to perform there with two of her playing partners, Patrick Villanueva and Pascal Gaubert , while a student in the City of Light in the 1980's. It was during those days that May began working as a chanteuse as she laid the foundations for what has become an extraordinary jazz singing career. Live in Paris is not quite up the level of her previous releases. But then, she set the bar so high with those albums, it ‘s a major challenge to get it any higher. Nonetheless, this album is still top of the line jazz singing.
The play list is typically varied and adventurous and reveals once more that May is willing and able to take on any vocal challenge. There's a couple of classic and jazz standards, modern contemporary and Latin rhythms, all of which May disposes of with ease and aplomb. "After the Love Has Gone" is a free wheeling, wild excursion with May taking us on a vocal roller coaster with Pascal Gaubert's sax helping to create the swoops and swirls of this musical outing. Nowhere is her well-known ability to use her voice as a horn shown to better advantage than on Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't". Her trading of fours with Pascal Gaubert is in the same league as the strong connection another English vocal doyen, Cleo Laine, has established with husband saxophonist John Dankworth. But May doesn't stop there as she broadens the musical conversation when her scatting assumes the sound of a soprano sax, then an alto, dropping to the lower register of a tenor sax and then up and down again. Quite amazing and dazzling. She moves from the impressionist Monk composition to Ray Bryant's 1958 "One Fine Day," done as a sizzling Samba. This track has Villanueva exhibiting brilliant pianist virtuosity. But it's "Take the A Train" that showcases May's awesome ability to turn a song recorded many, many times into something so fresh it feels like it is the debut recording. With Villanueva opening with Ellington's very familiar piano intro, May recalls Betty Roche's 1951 classic rendition with Ellington, then seques into some heart stopping Ella Fitzgerald like scatting with smatterings of quotes from "Crazy Rhythm", "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Lazy River" among others. Gaubert's sax takes on a Paul Gonsalves feel with an extended solo followed by more of the same by Villanueva. This has all the trappings of an impromptu jam session..with singer.
This CD is more good stuff from Tina May and is recommended. Visit Tina at her Internet home at www.tinamay.com.
Well, You Needn't; You Go to My Head; Whenever There's You; Lovely; Only Time Will Tell; Moonlight; After the Love Has Gone; One Fine Day; Take the A Train; Blues Play Off (Billie's Bounce)
Tina May - Vocals; Patrick Villanueva - Piano; Pierre Maingourd - Bass; Daniel Garcia Bruno - Drums; Pascal Gaubert - Saxes