Remembering Tina May

March 30, 1961 – March 26, 2022

A tribute to the British jazz singer

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Jazz singer Tina May passed away on Mar. 26, 2022 at the age of 60.

She was born as Daphne Christina May on Mar. 30, 1961 in Gloucester, England; both of her parents played piano.

She played clarinet from an early age until she was 17, studied classical singing, and began singing jazz while attending Cardiff University.

Tina May studied French and lived in France for a year in 1983, performing with the Roger Guerin Big Band and Kenny Clarke.

She worked regularly for a time with guitarist Dylan Fowler, led a nonet called Frevo, and began recording as a leader in 1991.

In 2002 she wrote lyrics to Ray Bryant’s songs and recorded a full album with the pianist.

May had a warm and accurate tone, was a very talented improviser, and always had honest feeling in her singing; she was considered one of Great Britain’s greatest jazz singers.

Tina May recorded at least 27 albums in her life (19 were for the 33 Jazz Records label), taught music at several universities, and was married to drummer Clark Tracey (they were later divorced) and saxophonist-writer Simon Spillett.

From 2010, Tina May is featured on “Beloved” with pianist Frank Harrison, bassist Mark Hodgson, and drummer Stephen Keogh.

-Scott Yanow


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