Recently there seems to have been increased interest in Scottish-based players, not least since saxophonist Tommy Smith became head of jazz at the Royal College of Scotland some years ago and did his share in championing the cause.
Noticeably there has been a fusion with Gaelic elements, and here we have a collaboration between established jazz vocalist Louise Dodds and the Azerbaijani pianist Elchin Shirinov, but it veers away from jazz and more towards traditional Scottish folk songs, arranged by Shirinov, and as much as the jazz element has been promoted, it’s not that evident.
Dodds’ vocals are confident and attractive, her clear diction and pitch blending with the piano, although some of the lyrics might be tricky for those unfamiliar with Burns, the dialect and language. Shirinov’s playing supports her voice well and his solos are engaging, often using a rolling theme which keeps the momentum, particularly noticeable on Loch Tay Boat Song, Ye Banks And Braes and Night Visiting Song. As with many modern pianists, a Bill Evans influence is apparent, often economical but delicate and always evocative.
The album title is inspired by the last letter of Mary, Queen of Scots, a figure held in esteem by many, in a romanticised version of a heroic victim rather than a poor decision maker with Machiavellian tendencies. The Jacobite connection is also present in the inclusion of Lass O’Gowrie, written by Lady Nairne, contemporary of Burns and said to be the composer of Charlie Is My Darling.
A well-produced album and a tranquil, calming piece of work, but it has more in common with middle-of-the-road and folk music than jazz.
Comin’ Thro’ The Rye; Loch Tay Boat Song; Ae Fond Kiss; Ye Banks And Braes; Oh True Love Is A Bonnie Flower; Lass O’Gowrie; Night Visiting Song; Auld Lang Syne (39.05)
Dodds (v); Shirinov (p). Edinburgh, 2022.
Loch Tay Records LT001