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Tina May: 52nd Street (and Other Tales) review – a fitting tribute to Duncan Lamont

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(33 Jazz)
The songs of the late, great Scottish saxophonist, composer and songwriter are done full justice by vocalist Tina May and the James Pearson Trio

The late Duncan Lamont was a remarkable man: jazz saxophonist, first-call session musician, composer and highly original songwriter. He was also uniquely productive, intent on writing a song a day – “because you never know when a good one will turn up”. When one did, it was likely to be a sharp little vignette of a person or a place: Hymn for Jobim, The Algonquin Hotel, Fred Astaire, The Apartment – all among the 13 of his songs here. Tina May is just the right person to sing them too, with the sensitivity to step gently into a persona and the technique to handle the bravura intricacies of 52nd Street, a song celebrating the jazz hotspot of 1940s New York.

Which brings us to the James Pearson Trio, house band at Ronnie Scott’s, who as accompanists play an absolute blinder throughout. Lamont himself was originally meant to join them, but his death, aged 87, in July, called the whole thing off for a while. Another saxophonist just didn’t seem right somehow, so his place is taken by Mark Nightingale, one of the finest trombone players in the world today.

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