Claire Dale will tell you that her life changed on Sept. 23rd, 1971, when as a very (very) young girl, playing saxophone for 3 months, she heard a big band concert at the Westchester County Center. The saxophone section stood up for a soli, and Claire was on her chair screaming. After dragging her father to the stage door for autographs afterward, she said of the Buddy Rich Band bus, “I’d do anything to be on that bus”. It was the kind of epiphany that only young enthusiasm can breed, but enthusiasm is still the motivating force in her musical life. After attending the Berklee College of Music, she began an education of another kind — making a living as a musician. Her career has included anchoring the sax section in the Diva Big Band for 7 yrs, freelancing in New York doing EVERY imaginable kind of gig (available on request!), and recording 5 CDs with the brilliant, quirky composer/pianist Joel Forrester and their band “People Like Us”, as well as two CDs as a leader on Koch Jazz, (“Swing Low” and “Movin’ On” now re-released on Dalybread Records) and a new release of her own called “Heaven Help Us All” (Dalybread Records). She has performed on numerous CDs, film scores, jingles, and of course in many festivals and venues.
She has backed up Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Joe Williams, and Rosemary Clooney among many others, being an in-demand baritonist in every style of music. Leading her own jazz groups, and passing on to the next generation the gift of music, have been the mission of her life. In the fall of ’05, Claire began a new long-term project, touring the country playing gigs and tracking down some of the hidden treasures of the jazz world, interviewing them on video, and planning an eventual documentary. In October ’05, the William Jefferson Clinton Library in Little Rock, Ark. requested a copy of her first CD, Swing Low, to be included in a listening station as a CD significant to the former president while in office.
Four-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, playing in as many situations as possible. She is currently working with human beatbox Napoleon Maddox and bassist Joe Fonda with “IsWhat?!”, melding hip hop and jazz in a very exciting manner.