Roger Cairns
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Roger Cairns

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Jazz


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"by Michael P. Gladstone"

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 uptempo 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! - All About Jazz

"by Alex Henderson"

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. -

"by Sheldon T. Nunn"

Roger Cairns is a voice activated jazz artist who has recorded a CD entitled A Scot in LA. When listening to Roger’s album, I found his vocal style to be embracing and melodic with just a tinge of a Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra influence. But in stating that, I must say that this recording is not a clone of anyone else’s music. Everything Roger sings is in his own voice with its own level of appeal and familiarity.

Roger Cairns has been expressing himself vocally since he was a child. From a very early age, he was fascinated by the art of singing; however, he did not actually become a singer until later in life. His professional career was offset by any number of gigs that were not directly related to music. Before he was able to realize his dream of becoming a vocalist, the road Roger traveled upon had a number of detours. In the end there is a question of why the music world had to wait so long to hear A Scot in LA.

Roger Cairns’ recording is a vignette of melodic standards and covers. The musicians he has chosen to accompany him are superb at providing the transitional landscape for A Scot in LA. Tracks such as Leonard Bernstein’s "Lonely Town" and "Things Are Looking Up" by the Gershwin brothers are testaments to Cairns’ relaxed appeal and approach to his craft. Other tunes such as "That Sunday," "That Summer" and "Never Let Me Go" provide insight into the Scot’s powerful range as a vocalist.

Roger Cairns’ A Scot in LA is a dramatic display of vocalese seldom heard in jazz today. Commercial assessment dictates that this CD has no value for smooth jazz radio; however, artistically, this album is an excellent example of what vocal jazz used to be about. The interaction between Cairns and his band have a chemistry that deserves acknowledgement. When examining this recording in terms of its originality and purpose, A Scot in LA is a release that is pleasing to the listening palate, while placing Roger Cairns in a category that is complimentary to jazz as a form of artistic expression. -


A Scot In L.A. (AHP Records) 2006
Let's... (AHP) 2008



A fixture in the Los Angeles jazz scene for the past 15 years, Roger Cairns took a large step forward in 2006 when he recorded his first solo jazz vocal CD, A Scot in L.A.

A native of Edinburgh, Scotland and former mining engineer, Cairns relocated to London at 17 to embark on a particularly wide-ranging musical career that spanned several genres including rhythm & blues, blues, jazz-rock and rock, singing with such groups as blues band, Rare Amber, jazz-fusion combo, Rubber Duck and jazz-inspired, 70s modern rock outfit, Listen. After moving to Los Angeles in the early 1990s, Roger became a member of the Dirk Fisher Big Band, where he remained until his departure in 2004 to launch his solo career and form a small backing group. He has since developed into a notable jazz singer with a signature style, performing at such venerable venues as the Jazz Bakery, Catalina Bar & Grill, Holly Street Bar & Grill, Jax Bar & Grill, The Biltmore Hotel, 4-Points Sheraton LAX, Café 322, etc.

Roger Cairns, who draws on influences such as Mel Torme, Billy Eckstine, Ray Charles, Johnny Hartman and David Clayton-Thomas, has a full library of songs that he is planning to record and perform. With his ability to make vintage tunes sound fresh, new and lively, Roger Cairns’ future projects promise to be as memorable as Let's…, his most recent CD.