Saxophonist Laura Macdonald to launch new series of Jazz at the Merchants House

By Rob Adams at

Saxophonist Laura Macdonald launches the new series of Jazz at the Merchants House concerts on Sunday 21 October following a lengthy period of inactivity due to illness.

Now fully recovered from the damaged stomach muscle that forced her to take three and a half months’ off earlier this year, Macdonald will be bringing the music she grew up with to the venue in West George Street, what’s come to be known as the Great American Songbook.

Saxophonist Laura Macdonald

Time-out: Laura returns after three months off earlier this year

“It really was a songbook – or a set of songbooks – for me as I learned these great songs by Harold Arlen, George Gershwin and Cole Porter from books my dad had,” says the Ayrshire-born musician.

“My dad was a jazz singer and these songs, sung by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and other great singers, were always playing in the house. They’re where I got my grounding in music and they still inspire me to this day.”

Macdonald still doesn’t know what caused the injury that left her unable to blow her saxophone. She was taking a workshop at the Tolbooth in Stirling and didn’t notice any damage being done at the time.

“My dad was a jazz singer and these songs, sung by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and other great singers, were always playing in the house. They’re where I got my grounding in music and they still inspire me to this day”

Saxophonist Laura Macdonald

“It was only when I got home that I felt a pain at the top of my ribcage,” she says. “I thought it was a stomach upset at first but a day or two later I couldn’t take deep breaths and when I went to the doctor I was ordered to take ten weeks’ complete rest.

“The weird thing is, I don’t know what I did to cause the damage so I don’t know how to avoid doing it again in the future.”

As well as having to take time off from the instrumental teaching she does for South Lanarkshire Council, and which she is passionate about continuing, Macdonald had to cancel all the gigs in her diary between March and June, including some prestigious festival appearances.

Saxophonist Laura Macdonald

Passionate: Laura also teaches music for South Lanarkshire Council

She returned to fitness in time for the Edinburgh and Islay jazz festivals, which both went well, and is looking forward to her Jazz at Merchants House concert with her band, which comprises Kevin Mackenzie (guitar), Mario Caribe (bass) and Stu Brown (drums).

“We have a gig in Edinburgh the night before, so that’s almost like a tour for me after being out of action for so long,” she says.

“Everyone who has played at Merchants House is full of praise for it as a venue and after we play, the next concert features the great pianist Brian Kellock in November. So it’s great to be part of something like this. I can’t wait.”

* The new series of Jazz at the Merchants House concerts is on Sunday 21 October. For tickets click here