Billy Strayhorn

“A Morning Cup of Jazz” co-host Alisa Clancy was in Menlo today talking about Billy Strayhorn at a program sponsored by the Friends of the Menlo Park Library.

Clancy, who’s married to New Orleans style musician Clint Baker, has been part of the Bay Area jazz community for 25 years. Those who know her as a radio personality – and lecturer/teacher – may be surprised to learn she also plays. “I like to get out and play,” she says. “My husband’s been hiring me to play drums recently, but I’m a piano player.”

Clancy came from a family of jazz people. “I’m just a tofu person – I absorb everything,” she says. She cites her grandfather, Big Band piano player Bill Nye, as her greatest influence. “He used to say, ‘Listen to this, listen to this.’ He’d put something on the HiFi and say ‘You gotta listen to this guy, you gotta listen to Ella Fitzgerald, you gotta listen to Billie Holiday.'”

The mother of twins now in fourth grade, Clancy continues to lecture at community colleges and make appearances where she can share her jazz knowledge. She akso serves as KCSM’s Operations Director. But conversations return to her passion for playing: “Clint hires me to play jazz funerals. I play marching bass drum, which I love to do!”

Note: Clint Baker will be leading the Cafe Borrone All Stars at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park on Friday, Feb. 19 from 8:00 to 11:00 pm.

Photo by Chris Gulker

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