Without knowing if the title of A Scot In LA
is an intentional play on words on Sting's "An Englishman in New York," I rather like this album and must credit Roger Cairns for his vocal style as well as the majority of the selected tunes.
The liner information tell us that as a child, Roger Cairns was always singing, and later he became fascinated by the science of singing. For someone who apparently was destined to go into professional music as a vocalist, Cairns took a lot of colorful side trips and worked at various occupations that kept his musical interests on hold: installing rooftop antennas, delivering refreshments to the Beatles, organizing outdoor stunt spectaculars in Saudi Arabia, and making helicoptor trips to North Sea oil rigs.
Even though the liner notes cite many musical influences, you'd never know it from listening to this album. Roger Cairns has a natural sense of comfort that helps him fit in nicely as a jazz vocalist here. He opens with "We've Got A World That Swings," an up-tempo tune that I always associate with The Four Freshmen, Peggy Lee and Mel Torme during their early 1960s days. Hearing the piece again is like discovering an old friend you haven't seen in a long time.
The ballad "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life" features delicious filigrees of tenor sax from Matt Otto. Similarly, tunes like "Never Let Me Go," "You Better Go Now," "That Sunday That Summer" and Leonard Bernstein's "Lonely Town" provides constant reminders that Cairns is not interested in singing the same old same old. Some obscure titles like "The Colours Have Run" didn't win me over, but Cairns more than makes up for that with his ability to swing tunes like the Gershwins' "Things Are Looking Up" and bring out the emotion of the Martin/Leonard piece "Why Did I Choose You."
Although Cairns' was previously interested in rock music, he has been with the Dirk Fisher Big Band, an LA-based group, since 1992, and this release is his first such effort with a small combo. This Scot in LA is on my repeat play list!
Personnel: Roger Cairns: vocals; Gary Fukushima: piano, arrangements; Larry Koonse: guitar; Matt Otto:
tenor sax; Derek Oles, Ryan McGillicudy: bass; Joe LaBarbera, Brian McLaughlin: drums; John