I'll Take Romance - Jazzwise

May is a vocalist who's known to take risks but here she's chosen to concentrate on the great romantic songbook, in what we might assume is a conscious atempt to challenge Stacey Kent's market share. And who better to enhance her chances than tenorist Hamilton, whose way with a ballad or standard tune is always a pleasure to behold? She opens I'll Take Romance out of tempo, before her fine rhythm section kicks in and she swings in Sarah-like style, extending the melodic line and setting the scene for Hamilton's creamy chorus. Bass and drums share a chorus and the it's on with the motley, as Dankworth solos in positive fashion amd May re-enters in her slightly breathless, open-mouthed way. This is fine singing never reverential, May using her range and husky warmth to advantage, often pitching low in a way that Ruby Braff would have liked. Elsewhere she's brighter, letting the song breathe, never crowding the line or over extending things, as Hamilton nips in and blows a good one. Both pianists do well as do Dankworth and Maillot, but it's May who scores heaviest here, this is her best album to date as far as I'm concerned. Gosh, she even sings September in the Rain in French!

Overall, this is classy affair, packed with performances that equal the material for quality. If May's vocal stance sometimes recalls Vaughan and McRae (try How Long has This Been Going On) that's okay, for she has found her own way to enjoy these melodies. The match between May and Hamilton is a dandy one - it will be good to catch it live.

07 April 2003