Jazz at the White House, April 30th

And of course, we’re thrilled to see John “Beas” Beasley as the musical director that day! Click HERE for more info.

beaswhitehouse

Owen York at Madison Square Garden

OwenMSGLast year we received an email from a proud father who figured his son Own would be eligible for a Mizar6 mention. He deserved more than just a mention. Owen York is 12 years old now, but was a lot younger when he started to play Steely Dan tunes ‘from the heart’, as in, figuring out the chords and all that fuzz by himself. And it wasn’t just Steely Dan, but also Umphrey’s McGee, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Phish, Peter Gabriel and many others.

Umphrey’s McGee and Owen are good buddies by now, he got to hang out with them at a soundcheck last year. And the latest is this performance in Madison Square Garden. Yes. Your eyes are not faltering! Owen played at halftime during a Knicks game in March. Appropriately, he decided for a David Bowie song, Ziggy Stardust.

Father Harlan let us know that Owen’s not into multiple web appearances, auditions or a website of his own (apart from the YouTube channel), but prefers a regular childhood with the emphasis on getting good grades at school, playing soccer and golf with friends.

The Fagen-Becker conspiracy

[ Taken from their website http://www.freelancefusionband.com ]

“Freelance is an Italian fusion band, whose members are some of the best Italian professional musicians, G.Paolo Petrini (drums), Roberto Celio (Bass), Marco Cimino (keyboards) and lately Max Carletti ( guitars). They toured with pop artists like Gloria Gaynor, Adirano Clentano, Mango, Allice, Eugenio Finardi, etc.
They released through the years two albums featuring guest stars like Dave Liebman, Alex Acuna, Flavio Boltro, “Lambretta Variations” for swiss label Modern Times and “MazurkaZen” for Electromantic. In 2014 they decided to dedicate some concerts to Steely Dan music. Some original arrangements are ready to be recorded for the next release “The Steely Dan cartel”.”

Check out their version of Everyone’s Gone To The Movies! And of course, they have a Facebook page.

Ok, ok. We just had to show this one too. Don’t Take Me Alive. Cleverly arranged, with a touch of Maxine at the start 😉

Steely Dan & Steve Winwood 2016 Tour

Make Up Your Mind!

And so our Mizar6 universe managed to reach the Ojay Valley in SunnyCal, which invited a singer-songwriter to share with us a tune he figured would fit here perfectly.

And he’s right.

Now before you go and listen, please take a few minutes to read the story attached because after all, it’s the stories that make it all worth our while!

Aron Van Alstine is an independent singer/songwriter from Calisota (California and Minnesota) currently living in Ojai. He wrote a song that all his friends say is “steelydanesque”: Make Up Your Mind.

We had to ask the inevitable questions. Are you a Steely Dan fan? Is there a story to go with Make Up Your Mind?

Aron: “I have vague childhood memories of Steely Dan. I was really young, maybe 4 or 5. I was visiting at my uncle’s apartment in Minneapolis where I used to watch the waveforms on his oscilloscope for hours at a time. I loved the patterns they made. And I can remember hearing Peg in the background. I also remember he liked Jeff Lorber. I’m surprised I even remember that name.

I probably went decades without listening to Steely Dan. I got deep into classic rock and blues in high school, and by college I was on to classic jazz. Finally, years later, it kept coming up in the process of making my first album. My engineer would be like,

“Let’s take a break and listen to some Steely Dan.”

Because mix-wise, it’s so perfect. Everything in its right place.

I can even remember a time when I thought what I really wanted to do was to create a blend of jazz and rock music. Now when I go back and listen to Steely Dan, I’m like, “Duh. They did it perfectly 30 years ago already!”

What I’ve created wasn’t intentionally derivative in any way. I’d like to think that my writing and my playing are unique even if they are “Steelydanesque.” I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in my pursuit of eclectic rock ‘n’ roll.

I wrote and rewrote “Make Up Your Mind” so many times I can hardly remember where it comes from any more. It was originally intended for this killer R&B singer, April Hendrix. But that project dissolved and I was left with all these demos. Eventually I was able to rework some of them for my own voice. I intended to record this one for my first record, “Here Comes a Train,” but I wasn’t happy with it.

Most songs I would just forget after that much trouble, but there was something about this one that kept it on the back burner. Finally, I got some great basic tracks when I was doing sessions for my “A Kind of Silence” EP. The overdubs turned out really great, so I went to mix it. All that time spent dissecting Steely Dan came in handy, because the instrumentation was very similar. Muchos kudos to Tony Humecke and Rory Anton for their guidance in this department.”

Thanks so much Aron, for sharing your music and story with us here at Mizar6! We want to wish you loads of luck and fun in all your musical endeavors! http://aronvanalstine.com/

If this is Clueless…

Joe Jackson: He’s the man

WALTER BECKER: Eleven Tracks Of Whack                                                     by Joe Jackson

“OK, this isn’t that obscure – in this context, I almost feel like I’ve gone all Top Twenty. But it is underrated. I can’t believe how many people I’ve met who profess to be Steely Dan nuts like myself, but don’t know that Walter Becker has made two solo albums. Becker’s solo efforts seem to be overshadowed by Donald Fagen’s, but in my opinion this 1994 album (my God, has it really been that long?) is not only better than Becker’s second but better than any of Fagen’s, and better than a lot of Steely Dan’s post-‘comeback’ work.

I still play this album often, but part of its appeal when it was released was that it was just so damn unexpected. No one ever thought Becker could deliver a whole album’s worth of lead vocals, for one thing, but he does a pretty good job. His voice is difficult to assess: it has a laconic, amateurish, not-really-trying quality which is less intense and distinctive than Fagen’s, but somehow a bit easier to live with. The album is full of great songs, too: Down In The Bottom, Junkie Girl, Book Of Liars, Girlfriend, Lucky Henry, the magnificently-titled This Moody Bastard. Of course it sounds very much like Steely Dan, which might, I suppose, only be mildly surprising to someone who always assumed Fagen to be the ‘main man’. Though I should probably mention that he is credited here as co-producer.

Anyway, the other refreshing surprise for me, when I first heard this album, was its slightly rough-edged, homemade sound. Whereas later Steely Dan is sometimes criticized for being too ‘slick’, this sometimes sounds almost like a demo tape. It’s more rhythmically varied and interesting than a lot of Late Dan, too.

Don’t get me wrong, these guys are heroes of mine. I’m delighted they’re still around, and there were moments in the New York show I saw a couple of years ago that sent shivers down my spine. I can’t believe I have the nerve to be even hesitantly and ever-so-politely critical, but I do think their sound of late has become a bit set-in-stone. Maybe they should go back and give this album another listen. And maybe Pretzel Logic, too.”