KIRPAL GORDON:Having heard a truly knock-out performance of The Mary Joyce Project: Nothing to Lose at the CD’s release party at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola a couple of months back, I thought that fans and friends of Giant Steps Press would be drawn to the music in a big way, especially with your quintet playing the Gershwin Hotel, 7 E. 27 Street, off the lobby, on October 27 at 7:30 pm, $15 admission at the door. So who is Mary Joyce and how did she inspire this project?
CLAIRE DALY:Mary was my father’s cousin who grew up with his family in Wisconsin. She was a nurse, went to L.A. in the 1920s to be in the “talkies” and ended up moving to an Alaskan lodge with Hackley Smith, who died a few years later. The following year, she decided to go to the Ice Festival in Fairbanks, by dogsled, by herself. The trip took 3 months, and the story is remarkable. She was the first non-Alaskan to take this route, part of which became the Alcan Highway, and she lived in Juneau for 50 years. We would like more people to know about her life.
KIRPAL GORDON:Tell us more about the tunes.
CLAIRE DALY:Steve Hudson and I began getting together a few years ago on this project. We spent time talking about Mary and imagining what her life was like. Then I went to Alaska and researched her by talking with many people who knew her, hanging out in her stompin' grounds and driving some of the route she took. I brought back some of her letters, photos and personal belongings and Steve and I dug into all of it. We enjoyed finding things out about her; she was a real character and a wonderful human. We tried to pay respects to the many facets of her life and her sense of improvising. Mary invented a helluva life! Check out "Claire Daly's Mary Joyce Project: Nothing to Lose" on Facebook:
KIRPAL GORDON: The music has a universal appeal that also speaks especially to kids.
CLAIRE DALY:Well, we premiered the piece in Juneau in May '11, and did a residency while we were there. One of the gigs was for 200 school kids who get bussed into the StateOfficeBuilding on Fridays for a concert from different schools. They went nuts---it was as much joy as I could stand! Steve and I wanted to create beautiful music that honored the subject more than "fitting into a category." The result seems to be that the music is enjoyed by a wide audience.
KIRPAL GORDON:What can we expect at the Gershwin Hotel?
CLAIRE DALY:The whole band will be there! Napoleon (our beat boxer) will be in town from Cincinnatti. He is a unique and wonderful talent and never ceases to amaze. Mary Ann McSweeney (bass) is back from a gig in Thailand, Peter Grant is on drums, Steve Hudson on piano and I'll be doing the baritone/flute/vocal thing. We'll perform the piece as we did in Juneau, and I'll yak a little about Mary Joyce to set up some of the tunes. Our hope is that the audience will leave knowing something about Mary Joyce, and will be empowered to live their own dreams.
KIRPAL GORDON: In the meantime, where can people hear some of the CD?
CLAIRE DALY:You can hear some of the CD and buy it at my website,