This session at The Jazz Bar was Mary May’s second year visit to The Edinburgh Fringe, and I was lucky enough to catch last year’s sessions at The Jazz Bar too, so I had some idea of the high quality of Jazz singer that I was going to see.

Whereas last year’s session was built around the songs of Billie Holiday, this year’s “Lady Jazz” session was a mixture of standards, some newer songs, and songs you might not expect to hear from a jazz singer...many of course to some original arrangements (as last year’s set was).

Mary May was with the Mary May Quintet tonight – Colin Black (Guitar), Jim Gardiner (Drums), Alan King (Piano) and Ray Leonard (acoustic Bass and musical arranger).

There was an eclectic mixture of songs in this show and it all worked to produce a performance that seemed to go by far too quickly.  There were standards including “You Go To My Head”, “The Way You Look Tonight” and “I Got Plenty O Nuttin’” from Porgy and Bess, a version of “Sweet is The Air” by Alice Russel and some pop standards given a Jazz arrangement.

I have to admit that it is these new arrangements of more contemporary artists’ work that I liked best tonight as they were new to me in this form.  These include “Roxanne” – The Police and “A Hard Day’s Night” - The Beatles. The “Superwoman/Where Were You When I Needed You” arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s song  from his 1972  “Music In My Mind” album was amazing too. This was a two part song on the album and it was the second part of the full song that was used...look at the lyrics for the first part on Google – perfect for a lady called Mary.

I have heard “Roxanne” being reworked a few times, but the Jazz arrangement of “A Hard Day’s Night” was new to me and I liked this one a lot.  To me, the often enduring appeal of a Beatles song is that it can often be deconstructed musically (well the earlier songs anyhow) and re-arranged in infinite variations, and jazz musicians seem to love doing that with songs at many levels.  I would love to hear a full session of these reworked modern songs and maybe even a CD of them one day.

There was also a tinge of sadness in the show as Mary dedicated “Ole Black Magic” to her former drummer and friend Grant Robertson who had sadly passed away.  A Frank Sinatra tribute to a big Frank Sinatra fan.

This was just one of those nice enjoyable musical evenings that you get from time to time with a very talented singer (and band) who has a very warm relationship with her audience.

Mary May and her Quintet PLUS horn sections are back at The Jazz Bar on Sunday November 1st from 9.15 to 11.45 for the launch of her debut CD “This is What You Are”.  Try to be there if you can as I am sure it will be a great evening out.

To find more out about Mary May visit

If you can not make it along to The Jazz Bar for the official launch of Mary's CD you can buy it from

Our review of "This is What You Are" by Mary May can be read on the link below.

Review by

Tom King


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