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Claire Daly Quintet: Mary Joyce Project: Nothing to Lose

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Mary Joyce, a cousin of baritone saxophonist Claire Daly’s father, was a Wisconsin native who made history as a long-distance dogsledder in pre-statehood Alaska. On this beautifully realized album, Daly captures Joyce’s adventurous spirit, determination and love of her surroundings while radiating similar qualities herself.

Informed by Joyce’s journals, the songs were written by Daly and/or pianist Steve Hudson. Doubling on alto sax and also playing flute, Daly brings a sweet melodic clarity to her bop-driven narrative, helped immeasurably by engineer Jim Czak’s clean, open sound. We get a lyrical sense of the wide-open surroundings and of the intimacy between artist and subject. While Nothing to Lose doesn’t chart new ground the way Joyce did as a woman and non-Alaskan, its unusual storyline and supplemental effects make it unique.

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