Roger Cairns

A Scot in L.A.

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A Scot in L.A. is an accurate title for this 58-minute CD by Roger Cairns, a veteran singer who has been flying under the radar; Cairns is originally from Scotland, and Los Angeles is his adopted home. Although Cairns performed rock in the past, the focus of this album is vocal jazz of the crooner/torch singer variety, and even though A Scot in L.A. was recorded in 2005 (the year Cairns turned 59), this is a disc that, stylistically, is a throwback to the '50s. Mel Tormé is a major influence -- the album's most obvious influence, in fact -- although there are also hints of Johnny Hartman, Nat King Cole, Chet Baker, and even Billie Holiday in Cairns' polished phrasing (there is no law stating that male singers can't be influenced by Lady Day -- just ask Jimmy Scott). Nothing groundbreaking occurs, but Cairns' smooth, charismatic performances are consistently enjoyable, and the Scottish immigrant certainly deserves praise for not inundating listeners with overdone warhorses. All too often, vocalists who perform straight-ahead jazz insist on recording an abundance of Tin Pan Alley warhorses that were beaten to death even in 1960; they are downright lazy when it comes to choosing material. Cairns, however, embraces an interesting variety of songs that range from Leonard Bernstein's "Lonely Town" to Cy Coleman's "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life" to George & Ira Gershwin's "Things Are Looking Up" (which isn't among the Gershwin classics that jazz improvisers have beaten to death). Regrettably, male vocalists are a minority in today's jazz world, and Cairns shows himself to be an expressive part of that minority on this accessible and pleasing, if derivative, effort.

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