GERARD Black’s ears must be burning. Bill Wells, one of the country’s most respected and singular musicians, has just named him “one of the best singers in Scotland, easily”.

French songstress Charlotte Gainsbourg agrees, having recently snapped up Black – currently one quarter of highly-rated international pop outfit Babe – for her live band.

Captivating and clear as glass, Black’s vocals echo the croon of Billy Mackenzie, an influence acknowledged during his time leading synth-pop quartet Findo Gask in the late 2000s.

On Standards Vol. V – the new album under Wells’ semi-ironic National Jazz Trio Of Scotland moniker – Black’s tenor is immaculate but anything but blank.

On tracks such as the wordless Gradual Inclination and the upbeat So Much Power, his vocals have a deep undertow at odds with his serene, almost choir-boy delivery.

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Recorded in bursts over an eight-year period in Loathsome Reels, aka the kitchen in Wells’ Glasgow flat, the entire record was written with Black’s particular pipes in mind, just as previous National Jazz Trio Of Scotland album, Standards Vol. IV, centred on the vocals of Kate Sugden.

“Gradual Inclination was the first track I wrote for the record and it was written specifically for David’s voice,” says Wells.

“He’s got a good range to him, a good technique and it’s coupled with emotion. Touring with Charlotte Gainsbourg is justified; he’s at that level.”

Among the album’s originals is A Quiet Goodbye, which features words by Aidan Moffat – Wells’ partner on Everything’s Getting Older, which was the winner of the first Scottish Album Of The Year award back in 2012.

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The standards include new interpretations of Scots/Irish ballad I Know Where I’m Going, Sigh No More Ladies from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and two songs from George and Ira Gershwin’s Fiddler On The Roof.

Standards Vol. V is the composer’s third album in 12 months, following the release of Remixes For Seksound in October 2018 and the January release of The Sensory Illusions, which was the first record from Wells’ collaboration with tuba player Danielle Price.

He’s also begun work on a new National Jazz Trio Of Scotland record centring on the talents of viola player Aby Vulliamy, a feature of the band in previous years.

“Aby has been in Canada for the past few years but I’m still in touch with her,” clarifies Wells.

“It’s a floating membership. I would consider Norman Blake part of the trio as well, if he’s around. He’s on a few of the records and has helped a lot.

“He sampled my guitar and Aby’s viola years ago and I still use those sounds on the more sparse songs.”

He adds, laughing: “I never really consider people to leave. To sack someone they would have to be really objectionable.”

Standards Vol. V is out now via Karaoke Kalk