Friday, November 25, 2005

Speak up

I'd read about baritone saxophonist Claire Daly in Down Beat (the magazine tagged her a rising star) and had heard her in the all-woman big band Diva, whose 2002 CD "Live in Concert" is a stunner, so I picked up her self-produced disk "Heaven Help Us All" recently. It was on sale at a concert by the great Henry Grimes because Napoleon Maddox and his exciting jazz and hip-hop fusion group Iswhat?! opened for Grimes and Maddox appears on Daly's CD.

A cool version of the title track, on which Daly's baritone approximates the voices of Joan Baez, Ray Charles and other singers who have done the song, is just one of the highlights. Maddox then does the yang to that yin, with his marvelous ability to make his voice fill the roles of a variety of instruments, on "Heavenly."

Pepper Adams probably would have been impressed with Daly and her crew on "Ol' Devil Moon." In fact, this is mostly a very good straight-ahead, post-bop jazz session, although you've got Maddox in the mix, Daly sings a couple times (including on a reprise of "Heaven Help Us All"), and you even get some beat-style poetry on "Theme for the Eulipions/What We Got Against Tyranny" and "Evil Ways/Don't Dismiss the Bliss" (on which Daly does a little avant-garde blowing). Eli Yamin on piano, Adam Bernstein on bass and Andy Demos on drums and percussion, who make up the group Solar, and guest Warren Smith on vibes are all excellent players. Bernstein's "The Small But Evil Man" swings like mad in their hands. I'm glad I went to see Henry Grimes and glad I bought this CD.

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