Tina May

Tina May

Tina May
Jazz vocal

One of Britain’s most popular vocalists who handles an excellent selection of material with aplomb, seductive phrasing and wide vocal range.


Tina May began exploring and developing her jazz sensibilities at University College, Cardiff where she inevitably teamed up with other musicians. She joined the Welsh Jazz Society and was soon a regular at The Lions Den in the Great Western Hotel in Cardiff listening to Sweets Edison, Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davies and Al Cohn among others. As a student of French, Tina knew she would have the opportunity of living in France for a year as part of her degree course.

She chose to study in Paris and began her apprenticeship in Jazz when she met up with Pascal Gaubert and Patrick Villanueva, who invited her to have a jam with them. These musicians recorded with Tina on a Live in Paris album nearly twenty years later. Very soon Tina was performing venues across Paris. In particular, Le Caveau de la Huchette and Le Slow Club became regular gigs.

Tina loved to collaborate with her first real musical soulmate, Dylan Fowler, guitarist and composer from south Wales. Together they played in quartet, quintet and then nonet - which became Frevo - the band led by Dylan with brazilian rhythms but original compositions - and lyrics by Tina. This band performed at Bath Festival (where Tina was invited to sing by Egberto Gismonti's trio), Edinburgh Jazz Festival and Cork as well as touring the UK .

Tina decided it was time to move to London to further her musical aspirations. At first she was acting in a French-speaking theatre company. Life became action-packed for Tina and she would be doing performances and workshops by day and gigging by night. Early musical friends were Robin Aspland, Johnny Gee, Mornington Locket, Mick Hutton, Don Weller and many others who frequented the legendary 606 Club in Fulham. Tina would also listen to her heroes at Ronnie Scotts Club - Art Blakey, Cedar Walton, Irakere, Flora Purim and many others. Soon Tina went freelance, singing jazz for a living.

Throughout the 1990s, Tina recorded for 33 Records and continued teaching and performing. Regular members of her quartet at this time included David Newton (piano), Dave Green (doublebass), Clark Tracey (drums) and Don Weller (tenor saxophone). In addition she became a soloist in The Ellington Sacred Concert with the Stan Tracey Big Band - which had within it such stellar players as Peter King, Guy Barker, Jamie Talbot and Art Themen. It was around this time that, in 1993, Tina made her debut performances at Ronnie Scot’s Jazz Club in Soho, London.

She then began working with pianist Niki Iles and her trio. Their first duo album Change of Sky saw them perform some unusual material by artists like Donald Fagan and Phil Springer.Today, Tina, Nikki and the quartet continue to tour, teach and masterclass their way up and down the country. Both have a firm commitment to teaching and enabling young and old to get more involved in the making of jazz music.

Tina remains a regular performer at the top jazz and arts festivals as well as in broadcasts with the BBC Big Band. She has toured extensively across Europe and the Far East. In addition, she has received numerous awards including a silver medal by The Worshipful Company of Musicians. In 1998 Tina was presented with the vocal jazz award at the BT Jazz Awards having topped the critics choice for several years prior to that. In addition, she has received an award Stateside for “Outstanding Services to Jazz Education.

During 2000, one event was of special significance – a performance at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. This was a real celebration across generations starring Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, Stan Tracey, Mark Nightingale and Jim Watson. All past Worshipful Company of Musician medal winners performed - on a glorious summer night. During the summer of 2002 Tina presented a series of twelve programmes on BBC Wales TV, featuring performances from the 2001 Brecon Festival.

In 2003, Tina recorded an album with Linn Records, I'll Take Romance featuring Scott Hamilton and Nikki Iles. It includes 'I Do it for Your Love', 'I’ve Got a Crush on You' and a version of 'Come Fly With Me' which became widely known as the theme music for television series 'Airport'. Tina has also been involved in theatre and comedy review. She met up with talented thespian Rory Bremner who was already writing sketches and performing his hilarious monologues and skits on politics. Together Tina and Rory performed 'You Are Eiffel but I Like You' - a review show which they took from Paris to the Edinburgh Fringe re-naming it 'Midnight Excess'.