Saxophonist Laura Macdonald tells a story about recording her new Duets album with New York-based pianist David Berkman that will ring bells with those who remember singer Carol Kidd's emergence on Linn Records.

In 1984, Kidd and her trio went into Castlesound Studios on the outskirts of Edinburgh and essentially set up and played as if it was a gig The recording engineer, used to rock bands taking rather longer to produce the finished article, was astonished that singer and musicians could deliver performances of such quality one after the other.

Fast forward 30 years and Macdonald and Berkman caused a similar reaction in Gorbals Sound, Glasgow's high-end recording facility.

"We spent some time experimenting with microphone positions to get the sound the way we wanted it," says Macdonald who, as with Kidd, has plenty on-stage experience and has also made two albums under her own name and a joint effort with Swedish drummer Martina Almgren.

"Once we started playing, it was like we were playing to an audience. The guys in the studio were amazed we could make an album in a day.

"But that was definitely the way to work for us because things happened spontaneously in the music - the sort of things that normally happen on a gig and disappear into the ether - and we were able to capture them. We had a break between tunes but they were all recorded in one take."

Duets marks an important stage in Ayrshire-born Macdonald's career and she and Berkman will launch it at London Jazz Festival this Saturday before playing a three-date Scottish tour.

Having emerged with Strathclyde Youth Jazz Orchestra, studied at Berklee College Of Music and completed various projects with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and drummers Tom Bancroft and the aforementioned Almgren, as well as playing with her own groups, the saxophonist took stock four years ago when her first child, Niamh, was born.

"I wanted to concentrate on composition and although I always enjoy playing, I decided to be a bit more selective and not just take every gig going, which is always tempting when you're freelance," she says.

"At the same time, I did not want to stop teaching (she is an instrumental instructor for South Lanarkshire Council and leads the weekly jazz workshops at the Tolbooth in Stirling) because I am very pro-music education in schools. It is a very important part of what I do and I love working with South Lanarkshire because it is incredibly supportive of music and of jazz as an art form."

Composing with two young children at home (Rory arrived a year after his sister) can have its challenges, especially when cartoon soundtracks infiltrate mum's headphones as she is working and she has to make sure no Disney tunes sneak into her own pieces.

The Paul Hamlyn Composition Award that Macdonald won in 2012 and her recent success with her Commonwealth Suite, premiered at Glasgow Jazz Festival, suggest she has coped and now the children are less likely to be disturbed by mum practising, she is keen to reassert herself as a player. Thus her renewed partnership with Berkman.

"We have played together quite a lot over the years," says Macdonald. "David has played in groups I have put together for Edinburgh Jazz Festival and I was lucky enough to play in his New York group a few years ago. But the duo started as a last-minute call to fill in at the Hub in Edinburgh. We had five minutes to choose tunes, choose keys and … go! And we loved it.

"We got another chance at Lockerbie Jazz Festival later and when I was thinking about making a new CD, I thought it would be great to work with David again because he has this wealth of jazz history in his playing."

Listing the significant musicians on Berkman's CV would use up the space allocated to this article, but as well as accompanying great instrumentalists such as saxophone legend Sonny Stitt and trumpeter Tom Harrell, he has experience as musical director for singers including Jane Monheit and this suits Macdonald perfectly.

"When I was setting out as a saxophonist I always practised with the singers' version of the Real Book (the jazz musician's jam session Bible) rather than the saxophone version," she says. "Because before I played a note, I wanted to know what the song was about. That's crucial for me and David's the same.

"We communicated by e-mail - I would send suggestions and half a day later he would reply saying, 'Yes, but what about these?' - until we agreed on a repertoire that is all old romantic standards, things like It Could Happen To You and My Romance. They have all been played so many times before, but working with someone like David you hear new ways of playing them every time."

Laura Macdonald and David Berkman play Queen Elizabeth Hall for the London Jazz Festival (with Dee Dee Bridgewater) on Saturday, then Tolbooth, Stirling, on November 19; Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 20; City Halls, Glasgow, November 21.