In September, award-winning baritone saxophonist Claire Daly, will release The Mary Joyce Project: Nothing to Lose, a musical homage to her father's first cousin, Mary Joyce. A pioneer who made a 1,000 mile dogsled journey from Juneau to Fairbanks in 1935-36, the story of Joyce and her three month journey is an amazing tale of determination, adventure, risk-taking, and fortitude.
For the new release, Daly and pianist Steve Hudson composed music inspired by Joyce's written journal of the trip. They, along with bassist Mary Ann McSweeney, drummer Peter Grant, and human beat box extraordinaire Napoleon Maddox, honor this adventurous woman who lived life to the fullest. Mary Joyce was a true free spirit and her life was a remarkable improvisation. The essence of her style and spirit compelled us to create these compositions. I met her as a child but only realized how amazing she was when my cousin published her journal two years ago." says Daly.
While most women at the turn of the 19th century could only aspire to husband and children, Wisconsin-born Mary Joyce was having none of that. She satisfied a restless and courageous spirit with a wide range of adventurous exploitsHollywood actress, nurse, stewardess, bush pilot, and bar owner. She was the first non-native Alaskan to dogsled the 1000 mile run between Juneau and Fairbanks (in 1936), the first ham radio operator in the Alaskan Territories, and the only woman to run supplies for the Allies by dogsled in World War II.
The Mary Joyce Project: Nothing to Lose includes eleven original tracksDaly wrote three songs, collaborated with Hudson on four, and the remaining four tracks were contributed by Hudson, whose understanding of the spirit of the work matches Daly's own. Elements of Mary's life in Alaska resonate throughout the projectthe hand drum played by Peter Grant on the CD's opening track, Guidance," was purchased in Juneau. The photo on the CD's cover was taken by Daly at Kluane Lake, which Mary crossed by dogsled.
The Claire Daly Quintet will premier The Mary Joyce Project: Nothing To Lose at the Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival this May, and the CD will be available commercially in September. In advance of the CD's release, the group will perform at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, nightly from June 21 through 25 at 11 PM.