In the 1940s, Frances Ballantyne discovered live jazz in Harlem and on 52nd Street, befriending and socializing with many creators of the music. She became a life long jazz fan and is still attending live shows at 98 years old. “Music feeds my soul” is a motto of hers since her days of hanging out with the likes of Willy “The Lion” Smith and Sidney Bechet and friends. She was in an interracial marriage in NYC in the ‘40s, on the forefront of the civil rights movement. Daly met her in the late 1990s, and their friendship has been steady as well as steadying. “Frances has been a power of example to me in how to appreciate every day, how to live a purposeful, grateful life, and how to grow older with humor and insight. I know a lot of amazing people, and Frances is one of the coolest I’ve met. Anyone whose favorite song is Duke Ellington’s Warm Valley is alright with me.”
When Claire told long time friend and tenor legend George Garzone about the recording, he was interested, having met Frances. Claire said, “We’ll be playing standards” and George said, “Great, I’ll do the VuVu” (meaning airy, melodic, mellow sound). With the exception of “The Lonely Goatherd” – a wild avant romp – this is a swinging and straight ahead homage to Frances and the New York jazz scene. All of the musicians here are veterans with well developed voices and have been gigging extensively for decades.
Claire Daly has won many awards including many Downbeat and Jazztimes Critic/Reader Polls, three Jazz Journalist Awards for Baritonist of the Year, Hot House Magazine Baritonist of the Year and her first CD “Swing Low” is in the William Jefferson Clinton Library as a CD significant to the President while in office. Her “Baritone Monk”, “2648 West Grand Blvd” and “Rah! Rah!” CDs climbed the JazzWeek charts into the top 10.
A born and bred New Yorker, Claire has been on the New York jazz scene since 1985 when she switched to the baritone sax almost exclusively. She began releasing her own CDs as a bandleader in 1999 and was the first female baritonist to record as a leader.
Claire first heard George Garzone and The Fringe at Michael’s Pub in Boston. New to the genre, she kept returning each Monday to Michael’s as the avant-gard chordless trio drew her in and significantly expanded her musical horizon. Eventually becoming the bartender, she heard The Fringe every week for three years and sights George as one of the greatest living jazz musicians. “Making this recording with George has changed me in ways I’m not aware of yet. Recording in the presence of a true master will do that”.
“A prize player hidden in plain sight” The New Yorker / S. Futterman
“With her big sound and strong soloing, Claire Daly has long been one of the most acclaimed baritone saxophonists around.” Ken Dryden NYCJP
“She’s an outstanding musician and a strong supporter of jazz education representing women in jazz from around the globe.” Mary Jo Papich
Claire Daly – baritone sax
George Garzone – tenor sax
Jon Davis – piano
Dave Hofstra – bass
David F Gibson – drums