CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

The Claire Daly Band: Rah! Rah! (Ride Symbol)

Review of the baritone saxophonist's tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk on the 85th anniversary of his birth

Cover of Claire Daly Band album Rah! Rah!
Cover of Claire Daly Band album Rah! Rah!

The rambunctious spirit of multi-instrumentalist and composer Rahsaan Roland Kirk is reflected in the Kirk interpretations and originals played by baritone saxophonist Claire Daly on the aptly titled Rah! Rah! Joined by three regular collaborators—pianist Eli Yamin, bassist Dave Hofstra, and drummer Peter Grant—Daly offers a pleasant 10-track tribute to Kirk, who would have turned 85 in 2020.

For “Volunteered Slavery/Everyday People,” effectively the album’s centerpiece, Daly’s big, wooly bari opens in unison with bass, bare piano chords later undergirding the two. Drums kick in as the leader heads off on an exploratory solo, eventually spiked with high-register screeches. And then the piece melds into Sly Stone’s sing-song melody, with Daly taking the first of two vocal turns on the disc; the second is a brief, laidback version of Burt Bacharach’s “Alfie.”

Like Kirk, Daly doubles on flute, putting it to artful use on a swinging stroll through “Serenade to a Cuckoo,” with the swaying last notes of her solo serving as a starting point for Hofstra’s improvisation. She also deploys the instrument on the bluesy “Funk Underneath,” a launching pad for one of Yamin’s most inspired solos here and some fours-trading between the two, and on her “Momentus Brighticus,” an intriguing contrafact of the honoree’s “Bright Moments.”

Daly’s bari, of course, makes its welcome presence known throughout, starting with her breezy opener “Blue Lady” and continuing through the Latin-tinged “Theme for the Eulipions,” which opens up for some drumming derring-do; Parker’s bop gem “Blues for Alice,” famously recorded by Kirk; and lush ballad “I’ll Be Seeing You.” It’s all an appealing celebration of an artist whose vision still resonates in modern music, given by an artist who’s more than up to the task of throwing such a party.

Philip Booth

Philip Booth is a longtime arts journalist and bass player based in Florida. Formerly the pop music critic for the Tampa Tribune, he has contributed to many national publications, recently including the Washington PostJazziz, and Relix. His byline also has appeared in DownBeat, Bass Player, Billboard, Variety, Spin, Rolling Stone, and several academic journals. The debut CD from his band, Acme Jazz Garage, gained airplay on about 35 radio stations across the US.