If you could thank your muse, to whom would you write and how?
Baritone saxophonist Clare Daly recorded Rah! Rah! to thank the legendary Rahsaan Roland Kirk, an iconic multi- instrumentalist who seemed equal parts man and myth even while he was still alive. Kirk loved to stretch out cover versions as if they were his own tunes, which Daly honors by not only including "I'll Be Seeing You" but by playing and singing on "Alfie." She honors Kirk the composer by featuring four of his tunes plus her own "Momentus Brighticus," a loving rejoinder to Kirk's "Bright Moments."
"If there was ever an inspiration to me at this time in history," says Daly, "it is the unstoppable, fearless courage of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Let us all summon his energy to move forward and find our new reality."
It's hard to imagine a better opening tune than "Blue Lady," Daly's take on Kirk's "Lady's Blues." Daly's baritone soaks in the blues poured out by the rhythm section (Eli Yamin on piano, Dave Hofstra on bass and drummer Peter Grant) and moans and groans in the baritone's deep tones like a true saxophonus colossus. "It's got this big fat swing," Daly explains. "It feels good to dig in."
Unaccompanied saxophone eventually steers Kirk's "Volunteered Slavery" into a muscular and vibrant groove, its saxophone and drums poking at each other in fun, and then takes only eight magical bars to transform into a completely different song, "Everyday People" by Sly and the Family Stone. The tone and feeling in Daly's voice turn the line "We've got to live together" into a genuine prayer. If only...
The closing "I'll Be Seeing You" shows how true the "revolutionary" Kirk was to the "tradition" of jazz simply by feeling free to play the ballads and blues where and how his inquisitive spirit moved him. Just as importantly, it sounds just great and few people could pour the love and spirit into the last line that Daly plays with here.
Much like the person it honors and the person doing the honors, an indescribable but palpable fun energy radiates from every groove of Rah! Rah!. Daly's thankful music may enter through your ears and mind but ultimately hits and settles deep down in your soul.
Blue Lady; Serenade to a Cuckoo; Volunteered Slavery/Everyday People; Simone; Funk Underneath; Theme for the Eulipions; Alfie; Momentus Brighticus; Blues for Alice; I'll Be Seeing You