To turn 70 and not have retired in this wild business of rock ‘n’ roll, is always something to have the utmost respect for. Donald Fagen turns 70 today, and as you probably know by now, Steely Dan and their compadres The Doobie Brothers are promising a Hot Summer of Living Dangerously! For tour dates, visit their respective websites or Facebook pages.
We however would like to zoom into another aspect of mr. Fagen’s musical career! Five years ago, which happens to have been on January 2, 2013, we posted about Donald’s collaboration with a band of young musicians, Oh Whitney. If it doesn’t ring any bells, and you would like to flash back and read this Time Out of Mind article about how Oh Whitney and Donald Fagen met, go ahead. Take all the time you need 😉
Managed to catch up? GOOD!! Let’s commence today’s celebration then!
Peter More was Oh Whitney’s frontman. With his band (Lead Guitar / Jose Juan Poyatos, Bass / Diego Noyola and Drums / Adrien Faunce) he took to the studio to record a new album, produced by none other than Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen! Now Walter Becker was known for his production work with artists like Michael Franks, Rickie Lee Jones, China Crisis, Fra Lippo Lippi, Rosie Vela, John Beasley and Krishna Das, next to other musical collaborations. Donald Fagen did co-produce Becker’s 11 Tracks of Whack album, as Becker was involved in Fagen’s Kamakiriad, but he was more involved in writing scores for soundtracks and writing columns than engage himself in production stints. It can also easily be overlooked he loves hardcore jazz, to which this Thelonius Monk tribute with guitarist Steve Khan and Donald Fagen on synthesizer may testify. His affiliation with writing music for others can be distilled from this anecdotal article about comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney (yes, it’s Steely Dan related).
We’d like you to see this official Peter More video, which includes Donald Fagen as a producer and keyboardist. “It was inspiring watching Donald in the studio as he produced the record, playing keys throughout and mapping vocal harmonies.” Peter More says in an interview. Happy 70th birthday, maestro! Here’s to much more than a summer of living dangerously!
Chris Punsulan is a young beats producer who discovered the music of Steely Dan only a while ago. He’s not a huge fan, as you can hear him say in the video, but he felt intrigued enough to check out the albums Aja and Countdown to Ecstasy. Early this year he felt inspired to create a certain Steely Dan beat, for his own pleasure. When he found out that Walter Becker had passed, he deemed it appropriate to share his Steely Dan beat and created a video, explaining the whole story! And what may be a funny twist to this, is that Chris’ beat sounds very kindred to Stevie Wonder’s Master Blaster from Hotter Than July… a song and perhaps artist he doesn’t know yet 😉 although the album covers in the back seem to indicate it’s virtually impossible for him to not know of Stevie Wonder!
This show came to mind amidst the many interviews and articles over the years. Not in the least because of the wonderful and charming host, Marian McPartland. A great hour of musings and music. Even though it is very sad mr. Becker left so soon, to celebrate life, or his work, is the best way of honoring the time he was here. Enjoy! Originally recorded July 23, 2002. Originally aired in 2003.
If for some reason you can’t see or use the embedded player, click image:
Walter Becker’s passing this past Sunday at the age of 67 has hit the music world hard. This includes Albumism’s Libby Cudmore, who pays her respects to the Steely Dan co-founder in this special tribute:
“They don’t play much from their newer albums, which is a shame, but Becker and Fagen, melodic in hand, moved to the center stage and busted out “Two Against Nature.” To me, there is no song more purely Becker/Fagen than this one, the lyrics a code only they understand. It was an oddly pure moment, as though the band wasn’t there, as though the audience wasn’t there, as if it was only the two of them on stage. We were witnessing magic, in a way. We were witnessing two friends recreating some goofy beatnik scene from a Bard College dorm room 50 years previous, before the studios and the stage lights, the Grammy awards and the praise. Maybe most of the audience didn’t get it. Maybe they just wanted to hear the hits. But Becker and Fagen didn’t care. This moment was for the two of them.”
They’re in Toronto. The news of Walter Becker’s passing hit the founders of Choir!Choir!Choir! , Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman (AKA “DaBu”) pretty hard, as Steely Dan is one of their favorite bands. To honor Walter Becker and pay their respects, they decided to sing one of the songs they used to sing in the beginning when their Choir!Choir!Choir! initiative was just starting to grow wings. It’s Dirty Work from Can’t Buy A Thrill.
Nate Patrin will no doubt take you on a trip of lingual pleasantries if you read his ode to the genius of Steely Dan out loud! You may want to check the volume of your device first before you hit play on the presented videos though. They’re all covers of Do It Again. We already found you a brand new, lush jazzy version by the lovely miss Kari Kirkland, and there are others not taken into consideration by Stereogum. Like Tori Amos:
Brian Haner: “RIP Walter Becker. Steely Dan had a huge influence on my musical career. Writing, playing, producing – I did my best to absorb all of it. They were one of those few bands that the general public liked AND musicians respected. When I decided to play live again, the first 3 songs on my set-list were Steely Dan tunes. Their stuff is timeless.
My deepest condolences to Walter’s friends & family.”
Best known as Guitar Guy from The Jeff Dunham Show, Brian Haner is that perfect combination of skilled guitar player and stand-up comedian. Brian was part of the largest comedy tour in the world while on the road with Jeff, seen live by over 2 million people. He was also part of the Jeff Dunham Christmas Special, the highest rated show in the history of Comedy Central, seen by 20 million people. While many guitar comics simply play chords while they do their comedy act, Brian is a whole different kind of musician. Brian spent twenty-five years as a guitarist, recording and touring with musicians ranging from Avenged Sevenfold to Frank Zappa. Brian opened for The Jeff Dunham Tour on more than 500 shows, in just about every city in America, as well as South Africa, Australia, and a tour across Europe. Brian is now headlining clubs across the country in his own rock ‘n’ roll comedy show. With over 5 million views on his YouTube page, Brian has created a rabid fanbase for his live shows. He still does session work and is working on an original blues album slated for release in 2017. (source: Facebook)