The Scotsman Sessions #168: Crawford Mack and Luke Maher

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, singer-songwriter Crawford Mack performs his song Skye in tribute to the late Rick Taylor, with Luke Maher on piano

Glasgow-bred, London-based musician Crawford Mack hits 2021 running with the intention to release a new track every month. First out the traps is Skye, an affectionate tribute to the late Rick Taylor, session trombonist for the likes of Elton John, Wham! and The Spice Girls, who made the titular island his home for the last 17 years of his life.

Mack received the benefit of this “wonderful, vivacious soul” when Taylor was a guest soloist with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland. “Rick had a gift for pulling people together," he says, “a way of inspiring, encouraging and helping us expand and improve as musicians and as people.”

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Mack was in the midst of recording his tribute when he heard of Taylor’s passing in 2019. “I so wish that I had sent the incomplete version to him,” he says,” so that he could understand what he had meant to me.” In the end, he performed a stripped-back version at Taylor’s wake, while his Scotsman Session version was recorded in pianist and fellow Guildhall graduate Luke Maher’s studio in Shoreditch.

Crawford Mack and Luke Maher
Crawford Mack and Luke Maher

Mack spent the first lockdown with his family in Scotland before returning to London.

“I was fortunate to play a live acoustic gig in Soho during the very few days that clubs could open with a reduced, socially-distanced audience in early December,” he says. “It felt so good to be back on stage, collaborating with other musicians, getting that special energy from the audience.

“As a society we were poorly prepared for this crisis. Covid has simply blown the live scene to smithereens. On a more positive note, I hope that in future we will see our access to culture, hospitality and entertainment as less disposable. I’m looking forward to getting on stage with my band, and society as a whole being able to relish our freedoms again.”

Crawford Mack’s album Bread & Circuses is out now on Aye Right Records. Look out for his February release The Art of Losing You https://linktr.ee/crawfordmack

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