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British Jazz awards 2014

The annual British Jazz Awards for 2014 listed Tina May as runner up in the Vocals section for her performances on "Divas" and the album came in third in the New CD section.

Postage and Packaging

Packaging Changes for non-EU customers

Due to very high airpost costs Hep regrets to announce that with immediate effect all CD orders for delivery outside of the EU will be mailed without the jewel cases. Customers outwith the EU who still want their CDs with jewel cases should place their orders through Allegro Media or Amazon where payment can be made using paypal. New Hep releases are now packaged in Digi pak form and these are suitable for airpost.

North American Distributor for Hep Records

Allegro Music have been appointed as the sole official distributors for Hep Records in North America. Customers can now order Hep Record CDs directly from Allegro. Check them out via the following link :-

Hopefully this should benefit our customers in terms of quicker turn around of orders due to avoiding additional international postage. It could also save you some money. That would appeal to Mr HepJazz!

New Releases

Tina May - My Kinda Love

As before, HepJazz CD 2101 is a collection of lesser known songs, and some new, with varied backing ensembles. The main arranging duties, as before, handled by Frank Griffith. The featured soloists include John Pearce, Ian Laws, Nicol Thomson, Freddie Gavita, Sammy Mayne, and guest spots for Duncan Lamont and Janusz Carmello. There are also four songs with accompaniment by the Bowfiddle String Quartet.

This album contains the following tracks - My Kinda Love / Lazy Afternoon / S'posin / Where Were You in April / I Wish I Knew / A Sunday Kind of Love / If You Go / An Occasional Man / Haunted Heart / You Came a Long way From St Louis / Manhattan in the Rain / I'm Through With Love.

This is what Bruce Crowther had to say about this album in his review for Jazz Journal, vol. 67 no. 9 :-

"Throughout, May is cushioned by an exceptional group of musicians whose playing is more than merely supportive; it is also thoroughly integrated with the singer's vocal sound, which is warm, rich and mature. The very well taken solo moments include Pearce (eloquent on several tracks), Mayne on My Kinda Love and Gavita and Thomson on I Wish I Knew. Laws has an effective solo on Haunted Heart, and plays Spanish guitar on An Occasional Man. Griffith has several fine solos, including A Sunday Kind Of Love, and very nearly everyone has a moment on S'posin', notably Green, Griffith (on clarinet), Pearce and Carmello; Clifford, who is very good throughout, lends a vocal hand. It is a special delight to hear Lamont's tenor on his own Where Were You In April.

A remarkably good album by an exceptional singer."

Another from Dave Gelly writing in The Observer on 5th October 2014 we have :-

"Tina May: My Kinda Love review - sheer mastery of the jazz idiom

Real jazz singers flourish in the company of good jazz musicians, and Tina May is a real jazz singer. She can sing a straight melody, such as I'm Through with Love, and make it open like a flower. She can swing effortlessly and invent a wordless scat chorus as tricky as anything her fellow musicians can deliver. And, led by saxophonist and arranger Frank Griffiths, they are among the best you will find anywhere. There's nothing obvious or showy about these 12 performances, but as a demonstration of sheer all-round mastery of the jazz idiom, they would be hard to beat."

And this from Gerry Stonestreet writing in the October 2014 edition of "In Tune" :-

"I considered Tina May's album DIVAS to be one of the highlights of the new albums last year (was it really last year!!) and this new release is every bit as good. I find it surprising to say this about a singer who has graced us with her presence for so long but I really do feel that Tina has reached such a peak of perfection recently that is almost frightening. Her assured, total command of the songs and arrangements coupled with her immaculate phrasing and diction is quite breathtaking. Her choice of songs is wide, whether it's giving a new twist to old chestnuts like S'POSIN' and SUNDAY KIND OF LOVE, doing justice to the neglected Schwartz-Dietz ballad HAUNTED HEART and bringing out the poignancy inherent in a couple of fine Duncan Lamont songs WHERE WERE YOU IN APRIL and MANHATTAN IN THE RAIN. There have been many fine versions of the atmospheric LAZY AFTERNOON but Tina's for me is the definitive, with a superbly evocative arrangement by John Jensson.

Talking of arrangements, this exceptional album would not be what is without the contributions of the backing musicians. Expat American Frank Griffith, apart from playing reeds, handles most of the arranging chores, John Pearce is the excellent pianist and there are some very fine solos throughout, none more so than the flugelhorn of Janusz Carmello on the closing I'M THROUGH WITH LOVE. There is also a lovely string quartet on some tracks as well as other added instruments giving a satisfyingly full sound when necessary. A great CD - how on earth can Tina May top this!"

This one from Rob Adams writing in the 26th October 2014 edition of "The Sunday Herald" :-

"Tina May's relationship with the Pitlochry-based Hep label continues to underline her position as one of the UK's finest jazz singers and one who is completely in command of her material in whatever the setting. Producer Alastair Robertson and arranger, London-domiciled American saxophonist Frank Griffith test May's mettle in a variety of styles - from the uptempo swing of the title track through Sergio Mendes-like bossa, a swaying calypso, the delicious string quartet-cushioned Lazy Afternoon, and the afterhours intimacy of I'm Through With Love - and May confidently flies without a safety net on every one. She's cheeky, inserting a Stormy Monday reference into A Sunday Kind of Love, has a vocal tone that makes every line personal, be it in English or French (or both on Si Tu Partais), and working with soloists including tenor saxophonist Duncan Lamont, who contributes two lovely ballad compositions, and the sparky trumpeter Freddie Gavita, she shows herself to be a musician every bit as much as an interpreter of lyrics."

The "Scotland On Sunday" of 7th December 2014 has the following piece by Kenny Mathieson :-

"I doubt if many would have quibbled if Alastair Robertson had simply entitled this set Divas 2, such are the parallels between this session and that earlier release - not least in the quality of the outcome. My Kinda Love was recorded this summer, one year on from that 2013 set for the Perthshire-based label, and Tina May once again brings her classy delivery and improvisational flair to a well chosen set of familiar and not-so-familiar standards. Veteran saxophonist Frank Griffith leads a shifting cast of fine horn players through his accomplished arrangements, underpinned by a strong rhythm section which features John Pearce, Dave Green and Winston Clifford this time around. They add depth with a string quartet on four of the songs, while I'm Through With Love features May's lovely vocal accompanied only by Pearce's piano and an elegant flugelhorn solo from Janusz Carmello."

Les Tomkins provides the review in "The Jazz Rag" issue 134, Winter 2014 which is as follows :-

"This brings my total of excellent Tina May CDs on my immediate shelf to nine. It's her second for the Hep label, one year after Divas, which I reviewed in JR 129. American-born reedman Frank Griffith is again largely in charge of supplying imaginative settings for an inventive jazz singer.

As ever, Tina has selected some not-overdone standards for diverse treatment. Four with an eight piece include a Latin take on I Wish I Knew with her fervent phrasing and fine solo spots, such as John Pearce switching to Rhodes piano. On her vociferous Long Way From St. Louis, an extended scat exchange with the trumpet of Freddie Gavita is enjoyable. On S'posin', it's the voice of drummer Winston Clifford with which she scats happily, and the Griffith clarinet and Janusz Carmello's trumpet indulge in some fours with the drums before her second whole chorus, lyrically shared with Clifford. Tina's French/English delivery of If You Go is as expressive as expected, backed beautifully by Ian Laws on acoustic guitar, plus the rhythm trio that is buoyed by the time-honoured bass prescence of Dave Green.

The known songs are splendidly augmented on two of four that employ the sounds of the Bowfiddle String Quartet. I am gratified to have become familiar with the songwriting of the celebrated saxophonist/arranger Duncan Lamont, as well as his soloing and accompaniment skills. All are delectably heard here when Tin a gives her all to two of his ballads, Where Were You In April? and Manhattan In The Rain, the latter being a nicely-constructed story of a 'fleeting meeting'.

It's all good stuff, and strongly recommended, but part of performing is 'how you finish'. This accomplished lady finishes superbly, giving much appealing feeling to I'm Through With Love, with just the Pearce piano and the Carmello flugelhorn in perfect support."

Eddie Thompson in the USA

"Eddie Thompson in the USA", Hep CD2100.

Eddie Thompson, one of the UKs finest jazz pianists, had a ten year stop over in New York before returning to the UK in 1972. He made some tracks in 1962 for a now defunct New York label with his trio. He also visited the west coast in 1975 and was recorded in concert as a soloist. This new CD combining these dates reminds us what a wonderful improvisor and artiste he was. This album will be available in late October just in time for a christmas present choice.

This CD contains the following tracks :- Cherry / How Are Things In Glocca Morra / Shepherds Pie Time / Mood For Teachers / Guess I'll Have To Hang My Tears Out To Dry / Baby Mine / Home Brew / Bread For Ed / Chili Con Carne / State Occasion / All Too Soon / Dancing On The Ceiling / Laura / St. Louis Blues / Liza.

Eddie Thompson - "All Too Soon"

Alec Wilder - The Octets

"Music For Lost Souls and Wounded Birds", The Octets 1938-47. Hep CD 97/98.

Alec Wilder, born 16th February 1907, remains one of the genuine mavericks of American Popular Music and also Modern Classical music. He had the advantages of priviledge, which he rejected early in adulthood, and his education was spasmodic including classes at the prestigious Eastman School of Music from which he did not graduate.

His mind seemed a veritable melting pot of jazz and classical forms. By the mid thirties it was the rhythmic jazz forms that took his attention. He moved to New York and mixed freely with many of the emerging talents of the day. By chance he met and collaborated with Mitch Miller, a leading oboeist, and the result was a batch of very curious vignettes comprised of woodwinds, bass, drums and harpsichord (certainly predating Artie Shaw's Gramercy Five) recorded for Columbia Records in 1938-9. The Octet recordings received quite a bit of interest if not exactly large sales as they were neither jazz nor classical but hovered in a musical no man's land. Much of the interest was aroused by the curious titles "Neurotic Goldfish" and "The House Detective Registers". The Octet also recorded with Mildred Bailey.

In the early forties he hit a rich vein with compositions like "Soft as Spring", "I'll Be Around", "Its so Peaceful in the Country" and "Who Can I Turn to" performed by many important artistes of the day such as Benny Goodman. The themes have a nostalgic wistfullness. He continued to move effortlessly between the jazz and classical worlds and became a favourite with Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett in the late forties and early fifties. There were other artistes like Jackie Cain and husband Roy Kral, Marian McPartland, Zoot Sims, Dave Liebman and especially Marlene ver Planck who have featured his later work. Meanwhile his classical pieces were performed and recorded by the New York Brass Quintet, New York Woodwind Quintet and many other soloists.

He has also written the most important account of American Popular Songs 1900-1950. His music remains as intriguing today as when originally performed by the Octet over 70 years ago. This double CD collection chronicles the 1938-40 output and picks up some later compositions including Frank Sinatra conducting four modern pieces in 1945. He died on 24th December 1980.

Bunny Berigan - Swingin' and Jumpin'

Thanks to an agreement with the Mills Music Library, University of Wisconsin and the efforts of author Mike Zirpolo, Hep Records are happy to announce that a collection of broadcast performances by Bunny Berigan and his Orchestra from New York locations recorded during 1937-39 is now available. These performances reveal that the Berigan band was every bit the equal of the more celebrated Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey bands of the day. Thanks to Doug Pomeroy's audio restoration these can be greatly enjoyed.

For more details click on the album image above.

Check out the reviews at the Big Band Library and Jazz Weekly web sites.


Chick Webb Re-Release

After a long period of unavailability the Hep Jazz CD 1023 "Rhythm Man" recorded in New York City during 1931-34 by Chick Webb has now been repressed. Apparently this will be a final repress so order early to avoid disappointment.

For more details click on the album image above.

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