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Mark Masters Ensemble — Everything You Did: The Music of Walter Becker & Donald Fagen (2013)

 Mark Masters Ensemble — Everything You Did: The Music of Walter Becker & Donald Fagen (2013)

Mark Masters Ensemble — Everything You Did: The Music of Walter Becker & Donald Fagen
Location: Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, United States
Album release: July 16, 2013
Record Label: Capri Records
Duration:     52:38
Tracks:
01. Show Biz Kids      (7:12)
02. Bodhisattva      (8:26)
03. Do It Again      (7:52)
04. Charlie Freak      (6:50)
05. Black Cow      (6:00)
06. Josie      (6:09)
07. Fire in the Hole      (7:01)
08. Kings      (8:12)
09. Aja      (3:24)
10. Chain Lightning      (11:22)
Personnel:
•  Tim Hagans trumpet
•  Billy Harper  tenor sax
•  Peter Erskine  drums
•  Gary Smulyan  baritone sax
•  Gary Foster  saxophone
•  Hamilton Price  bass
•  Sonny Simmons English horn
•  Brad Dutz  vibes
•  Anna Mjoll  vocals

                                          © Photo credit: Sandrine Lee
REVIEW
By Jeff KrowScore: ***½
—   Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan were perfectionists. They would take their time recording albums, experimenting with different groups on individual songs looking for just the right combination. Their success was hard to replicate on the road, as their it took the studio and many mixes to get the sound they craved. Their use of jazz musicians was impressive for a rock group, but the blend they found merged their rock stylings with a soulful edge (especially with their use of female soul singers to add the spice they were looking for). Early Steely Dan issues used Phil Woods, Larry Carlton, and Wilton Felder, and on their 1977 classic, Aja, they persuaded Wayne Shorter aboard as well as Pete Christlieb, whose solo on “Deacon Blues” helped make that track one of the most memorable tracks of their career. (In my opinion, Aja was the high point of their recorded output.).
—   Early Steely Dan issues used Phil Woods, Larry Carlton, and Wilton Felder, and on their 1977 classic, Aja, they persuaded Wayne Shorter aboard as well as Pete Christlieb, whose solo on “Deacon Blues” helped make that track one of the most memorable tracks of their career.
—   Steely Dan were especially loved and known for the catchy hooks and sassy background vocals backing the inimitable voice of Donald Fagen.
—   Steely Dan were especially loved and known for the catchy hooks and sassy background vocals backing the inimitable voice of Donald Fagen. Mark Master’s Ensemble includes vocals by Anna Mjoll. I found her vocalese on “Charlie Feak” less effective than her full-on vocals on “Black Cow.” Everything You Did includes three tracks from Aja, but most of the other seven tracks are less well known, giving the ensemble more room to stretch out into freer territory with out the listener searching for licks and hooks that the Aja tracks would elicit.
—   “Show Biz Kids” lets Hagans and Billy Harper improvise openly, while Louis Fasman’s trumpet burns, and the immediately recognizable Gary Smulyan with his strong bottom end takes off. The under appreciated veteran Gene Cipriano (normally known for his saxophone) blows on the English horn on “Do It Again,” as does Sonny Simmons, while the lower register is also featured by Stephanie O’Keefe on French horn, and John Mitchell’s bassoon — all instruments not normally featured in a big band on the same track.
—   “Black Cow” adds more unique voicings, this time on the bass clarinet of Brian Williams. “Josie” cooks driven by Erskine’s steady time, and Billy Harper going off on a tear. His acerbic tone is immediately commanding. “Fire in the Hole” has the orchestral feel of a movie soundtrack as Gary Foster’s alto sax provides an air of intrigue. It’s a beautiful track.
—   “Aja” provides only hints of Steely Dan’s famous version as Tim Hagans on trumpet, and David Woodley on trombone kick hard. The Ensemble enters with Fagen’s and Becker’s melody lines.
—   For fans of Fagen and Becker, who wish to explore Steely Dan’s fascination with the jazz idiom, Everything You Did might peak their fancy. Fortaken: http://audaud.com/
DONALD FAGEN
Birth name: Donald Jay Fagen
Born: January 10, 1948
Origin: Passaic, New Jersey, United States
Instruments: Piano, organ, electric piano, various keyboard instruments, melodica, vocals, saxophone
Musical style:
•  Fagen has classified himself as both a self-taught pianist and self-taught vocalist. He is said to have taken some vocal lessons in the mid-1970s as a precaution after feeling the straining effects of years of touring. Although he learned to become an entertainer, early on Fagen suffered from severe stage fright which originally prompted Steely Dan producer Gary Katz to hire David Palmer to sing two songs on Steely Dan's debut album Can't Buy a Thrill. This also led to the hiring of Royce Jones and Michael McDonald as additional singers in the band's early 1970s' tours. Fagen's name routinely appears on all time underrated lists when talking about rock singers and his influence and phrasing can be heard in artists such as Joe Jackson, Ben Folds, Bruce Hornsby, and Elvis Costello. Fagen plays keyboards on many of his own songs. He predominantly features the Fender Rhodes Electric Piano and Wurlitzer Electric Piano driving the chord progressions. He's often a featured soloist as well contributing piano (Fire in the Hole), electric piano (Your Gold Teeth), organ (Do it Again, My Rival, etc.), synthesizer (Home at Last, Lunch with Gina, I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World), etc.) and saxophone (East St. Louis Toodle-oo).
Awards:
•  In 1984, Fagen was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree by his alma mater, Bard College.
•  In 2001, both Fagen and Becker received Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from Berklee College of Music. They both accepted their degrees in person.
•  In 2001, Steely Dan (Fagen and Becker) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
•  In 2010, Fagen was added to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers' Jazz Wall of Fame.
Personal life:
•  In 1993, Fagen married fellow songwriter Libby Titus. Although the two of them had attended Bard College at around the same time, they did not become friends until 1987 when they were both going backstage after a Dr. John concert. Libby Titus co-wrote the song "Florida Room", which appears on 1993's album Kamakiriad.
•  Fagen is Jewish; his writings and interviews show a close identification with Jewish culture, but indicate skepticism about all religion. Donald celebrated his bar mitzvah at Kendall Park's Congregation Beth Shalom in 1961, a synagogue his father helped found.
Studio albums:
— The Nightfly  1982  Warner Bros
— Kamakiriad  1993  Reprise
— Morph the Cat  2006  Reprise
— Sunken Condos  2012  Reprise
Other releases:
— The Nightfly Trilogy (3-MVI DVD + 4-CD Box Set, 2007) 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DonaldFagenMusic
WALTER BECKER
Birth name: Walter Carl Becker
Born: 20 February 1950
Origin: Queens, New York
Occupations: Singer, songwriter, record producer, musician
Instruments: Bass, guitar, vocals
Solo discography:
•  11 Tracks of Whack (1994)
•  Circus Money (2008)
Website: http://www.walterbecker.com/
Steely Dan: http://www.steelydan.com/
Sadowsky Guitars: http://sadowsky.com/instruments/becker_model.html
Photo Steely Dan: Many consider this lineup — which featured founding members Denny Dias (far left), Skunk Baxter (bottom right), and Jim Hodder (far right), as well as future band-leaders Donald Fagen (top center) and Walter Becker (bottom left) — to be the band's  Circa 1973.
Also:
By Sari N. Kent, 7/28/2013  Author Rating: 5.0 Stars — I Loved It!
:: http://thecelebritycafe.com/reviews/2013/07/mark-masters-ensemble-s-everything-you-did-music-walter-becker-donald-fagen
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Mark Masters Ensemble — Everything You Did: The Music of Walter Becker & Donald Fagen (2013)

 

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