Claire Daly: Movin' On (2002)
Who’d have bet that Jeru’s lineal successor would be a woman? I’m not saying Claire Daly sounds like or even emulates Mulligan; she doesn’t. But she’s closer to him in spirit than anyone I’ve heard since Gerry left us in January ’96 (has it really been that long?). Comparisons aside, Daly is clearly one of the most talented baritone saxophonists to come along in some years, a fact that Down Beat magazine’s readers and critics have recognized by naming her a “talent deserving wider recognition.” This reviewer was bowled over by Daly’s first album, Swing Low, and is pleased to report that her second, a “tribute to the word ‘goodbye’ and the emotions that it evokes,” is in every respect as spellbinding as that one (and swings even harder). She has added a few new wrinkles this time around, sharing the front line with trumpeter James Zollar on Tommy Turrentine’s “You Said It” and Lerner / Loewe’s “If Ever I Would Leave You” and making her singing debut on Charlie Chaplin’s mawkish “Smile” and Bernstein / Comden / Green’s wistful “Some Other Time.” While the vocals are a pleasant change of pace, I doubt that Daly has found the key to a second career. Her modest (and not always unerring) singing voice is fairly effective on “Some Other Time,” rather less so on “Smile” (although I admire the way she cleverly downplays that word in the lyric, and her transition to the baritone at a quicker tempo is superb). The album’s theme, Daly says, evolved during a period of personal hardship that included the loss of her mother and a nephew and set her to thinking about the importance of saying one’s goodbyes and the need to keep moving on. She establishes the mood with an easy–swinging version of “Softly as I Leave You,” then welcomes Zollar (and graciously assigns him the first solo) on the finger–snapping “You Said It.” Daly is warm and rhapsodic on Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” candid and decisive on Gordon Jenkins’ “Goodbye” — played at a quicker (and more agreeable) tempo than usual — and playfully sassy on the old standard “After You’ve Gone.” Zollar returns (with Harmon mute) for a brisk reading of “If Ever I Would Leave You” before the quartet wraps things up with Charles Mingus’ mournful paean to Lester Young, “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” Joel Forrester’s buoyant “Birdie Bye,” Billy Taylor’s bluesy “A Bientot,” Thelonious Monk’s boppish “Bye–Ya,” Walter Donaldson / Gus Kahn’s “Love Me or Leave Me” and “Some Other Time.” Daly is perhaps closest to Mulligan on “Love Me or Leave Me,” a favorite of Gerry’s that he recorded more than once. She says every musician she gigs with in and around New York City is a “talent deserving wider recognition,” an opinion that is clearly borne out when applied to the members of her enterprising rhythm section. Pianist Eli Yamin, bassist Dave Hofstra and drummer Peter Grant are excellent listeners who anticipate Daly’s every move and lend unremitting support. As icing on the cake, Yamin not only comps intelligently but is a bright and resourceful soloist who makes the most of every chance to prove it. But Daly’s deep–throated baritone is the trump card in this deck, and I’m sure you’ll agree after listening to Movin’ On that no one says “goodbye” more eloquently than she and her quartet.
Track Listing: Softly as I Leave You; You Said It; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Goodbye; Smile; After You’ve Gone; If Ever I Would Leave You; Goodbye Porkpie Hat; Birdie Bye; A Bientot; Bye–ya; Love Me or Leave Me; Some Other Time.
Personnel: Claire Daly: baritone saxophone, vocals; Eli Yamin: piano; Dave Hofstra: bass; Peter Grant: drums; James Zollar: trumpet (2, 7)