Claire Daly: Mary Joyce Project: Nothing To Lose (2011)
Daly and pianist Steve Hudson put together a diverse program of originals in an effort to pay tribute to Joyce and all that she accomplished, and like Joyce herself, the music often defies expectations. Numbers like "Shine," with Daly's vocals coasting over steady bass and placid piano, and "Guidance," with vocal chants nodding to the Tlinkit Indians that guided Joyce on her long sled journey, fit the Alaskan image to a T, but the rest of the music is as free-spirited and far-reaching as Joyce herself. Daly gets funky on flute ("Determined"), moves to alto saxophone when she enters ballad country ("Lonely Wilderness"), mixes light Brazilian flavors into the program on "Complicated Love," and even bookends the hymn-like core of "Epilogue" with spoken word recitations about Joyce. While Daly delivers the goods, regardless of the horn in her hands, she is primarily known for her baritone saxophone work, and her playing on "Gotta Go" and the wonderfully churchy "Tippin'" demonstrates why.
While Daly and Hudson are primarily responsible for the vision of this album, all five musicians on this date are responsible for turning a concept into full-fledged aural artwork. Drummer Peter Grant has an unassuming way of providing the perfect part, whether sedate or lively, and bassist Mary Ann McSweeney is the heartbeat of this band. Trying to integrate beat boxing into this music is no easy feat, but Napolean Maddox makes it work more often than not. While Maddox's work can be over the top (""Who's Crazy?") or cheesy ("Homage To Freedom") on occasion, that's the exception, not the rule. He shows great skill and imagination throughout the album, as he successfully weaves his beat boxing into the aural tapestry of the music ("Gotta Go").
While Daly set out to honor Joyce and her accomplishments with this record, she went even further. Mary Joyce Project: Nothing To Lose is a tribute to the very idea of charting one's own path through life, regardless of conventions or expectations.
Track Listing: Guidance; Homage To Freedom; Determined; Lonely Wilderness; Complicated Love; Kluane; Who's Crazy?; Shine; Gotta Go; Tippin'; Epilogue.
Personnel: Claire Daly: baritone saxophone, alto saxophone, flute, vocals (8); Steve Hudson: piano; Mary Ann McSweeney: bass; Peter Grant: drums; Napolean Maddox: human beat box.
Record Label: Daly Bread
Style: Modern Jazz