I’m Seonaid Aitken - a violinist, vocalist, composer, orchestrator and broadcaster from Fife. As one of the rare few female improvising violinists in the UK influenced by the great Stéphane Grappelli, I perform with my Scottish Jazz Award-winning Gypsy Jazz band Rose Room as well as a guest with the Tim Kliphuis Sextet and Swing 2023. Following my highly acclaimed Ella Fitzgerald big band show to celebrate her centenary, I was also awarded ‘Best Vocalist’ twice at the Scottish Jazz Awards, and now perform my ‘Grappelli Night’ show across Scotland celebrating the great French Jazz violinist.
Classically trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, I also have a Scottish traditional music background and play in Country/Bluegrass styles, but Jazz is my biggest ‘love’. Being a versatile musician has taken me around the world performing in the dancing violin show Barrage, completing an 18-month residency at Tokyo DisneySEA in Japan and headlining on cruise ships. I’ve also played with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera for 22 years, in the UK touring production of Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ and have been lucky enough to perform/record with acts such as Michael Buble, Burt Bacharach, Deacon Blue, Martin Taylor MBE, Carol Kidd MBE and Eddi Reader.
As an arranger, I’ve been commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Red Hot Chilli Pipers and featured on BBC, ITV and Starz TV series’ including the BBC/Richard Curtis film Roald Dahl’s ‘Esio Trot’ (starring Dame Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman!). My composition ‘Chasing Sakura’, which was commissioned by and premiered at the 2021 Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, was released as an album in Spring 2022 and was Longlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award.
I can’t wait to collaborate with kitti this year at Islay Jazz Festival! kitti joined me on stage to celebrate Ella Fitzgerald at the 2022 EJBF and I most recently arranged/recorded strings for her debut album, so we have a great working relationship already. Matching her soulful, powerhouse vocals with the music of Scotland within a Jazz/Blues setting will be a really exciting and edgy project to get stuck into together!
Having been to Islay Jazz Festival before, I know this will be a special performance in a remote setting. Due to the small, intimate venues, the audience will be up close to the musicians and will almost feel part of the show themselves as they’ll hear every breath and witness every nuance throughout the performance.
LISTEN TO CHASING SAKURA on SPOTIFY: