Painting by Sonelius Smith Photo by Andrew Lepley
Claire Daly’s life changed on September 23, 1971, when as a very young girl playing saxophone for 3 months, she heard a big band concert. The saxophone section stood up for a solo, and Claire was on her chair screaming. She was hooked and went on to receive her degree from Berklee College of Music.
Her career has included anchoring the sax section in the Diva Big Band for 7 years, recording 5 CDs with composer/pianist Joel Forrester, as well as three CDs as a leader, Swing Low (Koch Jazz), Movin' On and Heaven Help Us All (Dalybread Records). She has performed on numerous CDs, film scores, jingles, and in many festivals and venues. She has backed up Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Joe Williams, Rosemary Clooney and many others. Her missions in life have been to be an in demand baritonist, to lead her own jazz groups, and to pass the gift of music on to the next generation and she is doing just that.
Claire is working on two other major projects; one is a documentary on the “hidden treasures of the jazz wolrd”, and the other is a composition based on the life of her second cousin Mary (Toppy) Joyce, the first non Alaskan to travel 1,000 miles from Fairbanks in 1936 by solo dogsled. Five time winner of the Downbeat Critic's Poll "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" and winner of the Jazz Journalist Association "Baritone Sax of the Year '05" category, Claire travels worldwide, performing as a bandleader and sideperson. Claire has also been teaching at the Litchfield Jazz Camp since 2000. Claire Daly’s Rah! Rah! Band is Claire Daly on baritone sax, Eli Yamin on piano, Dave Hofstra on bass, Peter Grant on drums and Curtis Fowlkes on trombone.