Forrie Cairns was the solo star of the Clyde Valley Stompers until he formed his own Clansmen in 1961.
He then worked extensively in London, and was resident at the famous Georgian Club with fellow Scots Fionna Duncan and Ian Armit.
His next 25 years were spent in Switzerland firstly with Bob Wallis, then with one of the continent’s top traditional bands, the Piccadilly Six. He moved back to Scotland in 2006 although he still undertakes tours with the Six, commuting from his New Town Edinburgh home.
It is patently unfair to brand Forrie as simply a player with extraordinary attack and fire.
He has a well-honed melodic sense, is harmonically unimpeachable and knows how to build a solo.
Sample - Forrie with Willie the Weeper
There were a number of fine clarinettists who emerged during the jazz boom of the fifties. One of the finest, and the very finest still active, is Forrie Cairns.
He brings an energy and commitment to his playing which is the envy of many young stars emerging today.
Forrie started playing clarinet when he was 13 and joined his first jazz band when he went to university in 1954.
Soon after, he formed his own band ….. The Forrie Cairns All Stars who were the resident band in what became the Mecca for Scottish jazz…. Whitecraigs.
In 1958 he moved to London and joined the Clyde Valley Stompers and was one of the reasons they went to the top of the tree and in 1960 he was named Best Clarinettist in a newspaper poll.
His career developed further with the Clansmen and Bob Wallis’s Storyville Jazz Band. In the mid 70’s he moved to Switzerland to play with Bob in Zurich and settled there, playing with one of Europe’s best known professional jazz bands, the Piccadilly Six.
Although Forrie and his Swiss wife Carina have recently moved from Edinburgh back to Zurich to live, Forrie still travels to play with the Piccadilly Six throughout Europe. In addition Forrie stars regularly with the Scottish Jazz All Stars