Mary May review The Jazz Bar ​ Edinburgh Thursday 20th October 2016


Mary May makes a welcome return to The Jazz Bar in Chambers Street after two sell out Fringe 2016 shows (Billie is Blue).  This is a new set with a lot of new songs  from Mary and the band - Alan King (piano, organ), Ray Leonard (bass), Colin Black (guitar) and Kevin Dorrian (drums) as well as some well loved favourites, and in the perfect setting of The Jazz Bar at is most relaxed and friendliest, a perfect evening just to sit back, relax and listen to music from the classic American Jazz and Blues songbook...with some soul sounds added at times too.

A new set of course means getting to hear Mary and the band expand their repertoire with not only Mary May’s vocals on new material, but Ray Leonard’s skilful arrangements and of course the band’s always impressive musical skills.  Nice to hear songs like “Moonglow” and “Solitude” and take trips into the music of the great Duke Ellington with songs like “Satin Doll”, but also just nice to hear once more Mary singing songs from Billie Holiday and other great female singers of the past.  Mary’s vocal range just seems to perfectly fit songs like “Fine and Mellow” and “When Sunny Gets Blue” and she has the emotional feeling and vocal phrasing to make you feel like these songs are very personal to her.  Favourite from the evening, a great version of the classic “Sunday Kind of Love”.

I often say this when reviewing one of Mary May’s shows, but will say it once more anyhow...these songs were written by writers and performers often drawing on their own personal experiences both good and bad; they are not just words on paper, and need to be brought to life by someone who can give them feeling and emotion as they are put to music, and Mary is a singer who can do that.  If you are starting out as a singer, go and watch and listen...a huge vocal range, a powerful voice and impressive vocal tricks do not these songs make...without feeling they are only words.

Review by Tom King

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