On the heels of his recently released The Dream of Olwen (Self Produced, 2010), it is worth considering Roger Cairns' previous recording, Let's..., which was a nice evolution from his first American release, A Scot in LA (Self Produced, 2006).
Roger Cairns is a student of The Great American Songbook. Rather than wearing out "My Funny Valentine" or "My Foolish Heart," he often chooses the lesser-known of the canon, and delves deeply into the pop realm. He has the chops to do so and his greatest offering is a light, friendly voice, full of sincere humor and glee in singing. Cairns oeuvre comprises balladic love songs, though he can rip a perfectly acceptable blues when he wants to ("Stormy Monday"). "Let's Fall in Love," "They Say It's Wonderful, and "Moonlight Becomes You" all are Cairns' bread and butter.
Cairns' name commands such talent as guitarist Larry Koonse and drummer Roy McCurdy to join him, as well as his musical soul mate, pianist Gary Fukushima. Cairns attracts musicians with his same gentle approach to performance. No one is burning things up showing off technique and style. Talent and humility are in abundance, and the combination makes for an enjoyable vocal outing, one that presents its material as originally intended. The quest to understand The Great American Songbook during its creation must start somewhere and it is here.
But Cairns also has a wicked sense of humor that he exposes on the playful "Bye, Bye (Peter Gunn Theme)" and "Gravy Waltz,," both a credit to his looking far and wide for an impressive repertoire. He closes with John Sebastian's "Daydream," tipping a hat to his rich Scottish sense of humor. The song begins straight, but in an off-key Thelonious Monk fashion that rapidly devolves into a dissonant and dysfunctional counterpoint one would expect of J.S. Bach after going on a weekend bender. Roger Cairns is a vocalist deserving much wider recognition.
Track Listing: Let's Fall In Love; They Say It's Wonderful; Bye, Bye (Peter Gun Theme);
Get Set For The Blues; To The Ends Of The Earth; How Am I To Know;
Moonlight Becomes You; Gravy Waltz; The Face I Love; My One And Only;
Things Are Swinging; Pretty Butterfly; If Love Were All; Stormy Monday;
Sans Souci (Cyprus); Daydream.
Personnel: Roger Cairns: vocals; Larry Koonse: guitar (1, 7, 8, 13); Darek Oles:
bass (1, 7, 8, 10, 13); Roy McCurdy: drums (1, 7, 8, 10, 13); Matt Otto:
tenor saxophone (2, 4, 6, 9-12); Gary Fukushima: piano (2-6, 9-16); Ryan McGillicuddy: bass (2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 12); Jason Harnell: drums (4, 6, 9, 11, 12); Michael Shapiro: percussion (2, 6, 9, 12); Nolan Shaheed: trumpet (3); Javier Vergaba: tenor saxophone ( 3, 5, 14, 15, 16); Damon Zick: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, flute (3, 15, 16); Martin Sullivan: trombone (3, 15, 16); Ryan Seward: guitar (5, 14-16); P.J. Maramba: bass (3, 5, 14-16); Ryan Doyle: drums (3, 5, 14-16); Bobby Wilmore: percussion (3, 5, 14-16).
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.