Tina May / Enrico Pieranunzi & Tony Coe - Home Is Where The Heart Is
(33jazz250. CD review by Jon Turney)
Singers who care for a piece of music so much they want to own it may be tempted to write a lyric. A raft of examples where the tune would be better off without the words confirm this is a high risk strategy. But the always resourceful Tina May brings it off brilliantly here. And what pieces they are. She offers five songs by the quietly virtuosic Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi, who joins her at the keyboard, and each offers a perfect blend of words and feeling.
Don’t forget the Poet is a beautifully simple tune that the words shift toward a rueful meditation. The Night Bird revisits Chet Baker’s solo on a classic recording of Pieranunzi’s tune and shows off bebop chops to rival Sheila Jordan. Have a tune that seems to suit a French lyric? No problem. May has that covered as well with the irresistable Le Feu dans tes Yeux. I swear she scats in French here too. It’s just one example of her ability to vary her delivery – now crystal clear, now ever so slightly smoky – to suit the occasion. Add one song with Pieranunzi's own lyric, one by Ellington/Strayhorn and a Weill/Gershwin number and this is pretty much a perfect programme.
Pieranunzi switches between embroidering the themes with a composer's authority and offering pellucid solos that offset the vocals perfectly. Two tracks featuring the dazzling soprano sax of Tony Coe - who worked so effectively with May ten years ago on More than You Know - might leave one wanting more. But the unadorned vocal-piano pairing sounds so good they sit well as icing on the cake. This is an unexpected meeting of great artists that adds lustre to two discographies that are already deeply accomplished and wide-ranging: a collaborative triumph.
Jon Turney writes about jazz and other things from Bristol. jonturney.co.uk. Twitter: @jonWturney