COMPOSERS: Laura Macdonald,Metheny
LABELS: Spartacus
ALBUM TITLE: Laura Macdonald
PERFORMER: Laura Macdonald (as, ss), David Budway (p), James Genus (b), Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts (d)


 Laura is the excellent debut album of young Scottish saxophonist Laura Macdonald, who seems to have burst fully fledged into the jazz world, rather as her famous husband, Tommy Smith, did some years ago. The album was recorded in the USA in September 2000, with three top-ranking Americans in her rhythm section.

She’s a virtuoso improviser with a maturity beyond her years, and she also has considerable talent as a composer – four of the eight pieces are hers. ‘The Hex’, her opener, begins with an ominous bass riff and intriguing melody that evolves into a super-fast performance. Her alto sax solo at this speed shows great control, phrasing and rich ideas.


Budway’s piano solo scintillates and Watts has a long drum solo over the ominous bass riff, before the final playout. The glorious sonority and fluidity of her soprano sax illuminate Metheny’s ballad ‘Always and Forever’, and other stand-out performances include ‘Have You Met Miss Jones?’ and Macdonald’s joyous ‘Last Confession’.