Monthly Archives: June 2009
This is wonderful insight into how Fagen and Becker compose, and comes off as a remarkably logical and intuitive process.
In sum, “Peg” is just this:
Intro: I – VII7(b9) (x3 down whole-steps) to “Peg motif” 1x (IVmaj7-Isus4)
Verse: “Peg” motif (IVmaj7-Isus4) in blues format: I – I – I – I – IV – IV – I – I – V – IV – I – I
Chorus: “Peg” motif, tonic to relative minor: I – vi – I – vi, and then #iv(b5) – IV – I – vii – iii – VI7 – ii – V7
There is an interlude, but other than that this is pretty much the whole thing. Pretty simple when he explains it like this.
I have found that musicians, particularly jazz musicians (and even more so guitar players for some reason) are rather apprehensive about talking about their influences. This video then is certainly a deviation from the norm. Kurt Rosenwinkel is almost prolific in his citations, jumping into a variety of genres and styles. I find a few of these particularly interesting:
Bud Powell and Booker Little – I have a sneaking suspicion that the references of both Powell and Booker Little are a result of recent listening habits. Not to say that he isn’t significantly influenced by them, but I can’t really imagine Rosenwinkel, as a young, budding guitar player, getting much out of them initially.
Allan Holdsworth – I bet a lot of people would not expect this, but it makes perfect sense. Allan Holdsworth was an early champion of the legato playing style, which would eventually become a trademark of Rosenwinkel’s sound (and the sound of all his imitators). Holdsworth used to say he wanted his guitar to sound like a horn player, something that Rosenwinkel definitely tries to achieve and has furthered by his singing/chorus effect. What is most interesting about this influence is that Rosenwinkel has come to represent a very specific type of scene and player, and I can assure you that many people who consider themselves big Rosenwinkel fans would probably scoff at the thought of listening to (let alone being influenced by) Holdsworth. To me it just shows that Kurt Rosenwinkel is a very open-minded musician.
Tal Farlow and George Van Eps – These influences are probably what, at a young age, set Rosenwinkel apart from other players coming up. Infamously underrated and under-appreciated, Farlow and Van Eps were often overshadowed by the players that they in turn influenced, such as George Benson. Rosenwinkel is clearly influenced by Farlow’s chord-voicings and Van Eps’ comping style.
Elmo Hope and Frank Hewitt – I’m thinking that this was a reverse influence. Frank Hewitt, who became popular in the Smalls scene that Rosenwinkel was a part of in the early 90’s (and who never made a single recording with the exception of some posthumously released live recordings) cited the cult figure pianist Elmo Hope as a major influence. Hope was, like Farlow and Van Eps, infamously under-recognized. Stylistically somewhere between Powell and Monk, he has been a major cult figure along with Herbie Nichols since early 90’s. It seems as though the resurgence of such players’ popularity in the early 90’s coincided with the various NY scenes that came up at the same time. Such as the smalls scene in Manhattan (Elmo Hope–>Frank Hewitt) and the Jazz Composers Collective in Brooklyn (Herbie Nichols–>Ben Allison).
Biggie Smalls – Not a joke, I can assure you.
After 1980’s release of “Gaucho”,
Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan felt like they had “run out of steam” and went off on their own “tangents” for a while. For a majority of the time, Fagen’s tangent was the New York Rock & Soul Revue that performed live at Beacon theatre. Started by his future wife Libby Titus,
the Revue featured such former Steely Dan collaborators as Walter Becker, Boz Scaggs, and of course…Michael McDonald.
This is some live footage of McDonald performing Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops” at the revue.
(I’m betting those horn parts were arranged by Fagen)
The New York Rock & Soul review was, in part, a catalyst for the reforming of Steely Dan as a touring entity, which in turn led to them reforming as a recording entity. This of course would eventually lead to Steely Dan winning the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2001. The video seen above is taken from a live recording of the revue that came out in the 90’s. Film director and musician Mike Figgis would later use that recording of “Lonely Teardrops” in his Academy Award winning film “Leaving Las Vegas”.
Another well-used song in the movie was “Come Rain or Come Shine”, although I don’t think it was this Ray Charles version.
“Bennie Maupin takes comparatively contemporary looks at his pair of contributions to Herbie Hancock’s Crossings and is joined by two fellow and key vets of that session: Eddie Henderson and Dr. Pat Gleeson. (Also on board: Patrice Rushen, Blackbird McKnight, Ralph Armstrong.) A barely recognizable “Water Torture” is tightened from 14 to five minutes, anchored by a pliant rhythm. “Quasar,” the finale, isn’t as drastically overhauled but is made to sound more like a theme. Much of this is due to the change in Gleeson’s role. On Crossings, his synthesizer interjections are delivered as effect-like enhancements; here, his machines hurl a vein-melting crescendo of synthesized strings that double with actual strings. Like Maupin’s other two ’70s albums, Jewel in the Lotus (ECM) and Moondreams (Mercury), Slow Traffic to the Right has never been released on CD.” (Boom Ping Ping)
Absolutely killing. “It Remains to be Seen” is a funk classic.
“You know the deal” is a sampler’s dream…
“Water Torture” is a sampler’s dream revealed…