Seonaid Aiiken has finally found time in her very busy schedule to release her first solo jazz album –“What is This Thing Called Love?”, and like so many of the songs on it, this is another classic. For anyone out there reading this review who is not familiar with Seonaid Aitken and her music, then its time for a very brief introduction to one of the most in demand of Scottish musicians as a singer, violinist, arranger (for both many well known classical orchestras and contemporary musicians) and session player. Seonaid comes from a classically trained musical background and has performed with many top classical performers over the years, including 18 years with the orchestra of Scottish Opera. What makes Seonaid Aitken a little different from many other classically trained musicians though is a love of Jazz and Gypsy Jazz music, and her band Rose Room were voted Best Band at the 2018 Scottish Jazz Awards. Seonaid also won best vocalist (for the second year running) at these awards. I have to admit early in this review to already being a lover of Seonaid Aitken’s voice and fiddle playing with Rose Room and have seen the band perform many times over the past few years.
There was an album launch for this new album recently in Glasgow, but unfortunately I could not make that evening, but I did have the pleasure of catching Seonaid Aitken and The Scottish Session Orchestra at last year’s Edinburgh Jazz Festival performing some of these songs live. I left that event thinking that these songs had to be recorded with the orchestra, and here we are; nice surprise, thank you Seonaid.
The twelve tracks here are mostly well known classics all with special arrangements by Seonaid Aitken, but there are some surprises including “Ae Fond Kiss” and “Songbird“. Songs like “The Man I Love”, “Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye” and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” represent some of the very best songs of “The Great American Songbook”, and these timeless songs are just made for a vocalist like Seonaid Aitken who simply has a unique voice that often sounds like it belongs to another era, the sort of voice you expect to be coming out of a classic vintage radio set or a classic Hollywood musical film. I think I first really became aware of Seonaid’s outstanding vocal abilities as a “classic Jazz vocalist” when she performed the songs of Ella Fitzgerald at the 2017 Edinburgh Jazz Festival’s 100th anniversary of this legendary singer’s birth with a show called “A Night With Ella” that was simply a faultless vocal performance and display of talent from Seonaid. This album with The Scottish Sessions Orchestra was something long overdue from Seonaid and well worth the wait.
SEONAID AITKEN & THE SCOTTISH SESSION ORCHESTRA
WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?
RELEASE DATE THURSDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2019
2 What Is This Thing Called Love?
3 Ae Fond Kiss
4 Embraceable You
5 Ill Wind
8 I'll Never Be the Same
10 The Man I Love
11 Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
12 I Can't Give You Anything But Love
Review by Tom King