They Got the Steely Dan T-Shirts

I saw Steely Dan last night Friday at the Beacon Theater in NY. I used to go to tons and tons of concerts, but nowadays it’s harder to make the time, so I have to pick ’em carefully. Steely is one of my favorite bands ever with their unique combination of jazz influence, instrumental virtuosity, vivid storytelling and dark cynicism, and this show did not disappoint. The Beacon is a great old art deco theater, not too big and with good acoustics.

The band was excellent. There was Walter and Donald, a really, really good drummer, bass, 2nd keyboard, 2nd gtr, 2 female vocalists, and a horn section of trumpet, trombone, alto/tenor, and bari. Alot of the songs they jazzed up with solos and new horn arrangements. Walt and Don are both looking older but they can still play. Walt took about 2 or 3 songs to really warm up singing. He only took 2 or 3 keyboard solos (one on the chromatic harmonica), and Don only took about half the gtr solos, and alot of times just comped in the background or noodled and riffed. They played for over 2 hours straight, and only stopped between tunes a few times, which must’ve been pretty hard on the bass player and especially the drummer. All the other guys had enough time to lay out.

The set was really pretty different from when we saw them at SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center) in ’93. I would rank that as one of the best concerts of all time that I’ve seen, but this one was much more oriented towards diehard fans. And I was alot closer to the stage. They skipped alot of their radio hits, especially the earlier ones (no Rikki, Old School, Reelin’, Bodhisattva, Deacon Blues, Aja or Home at Last — all of which they played in ’93). Alot of deep cuts, played alot off The Royal Scam and Gaucho. It was actually really a very satisfying set. Let me see if I can remember it all. I did my best to remember the order, but it might not be totally correct:

Everyone’s Gone to the Movies (instrumental)
The Fez (instrumental)
The Royal Scam
I Got the News
Hey Nineteen (with Walter doing an Elwood-Blues-style rap about Cuervo and fine Columbian)
Show Biz Kids
With A Gun
Two Against Nature
(2 or 3 more newer songs I didn’t recognize in there)
Gaucho (with Walter singing)
Monkey In Your Soul
Parker’s Band
Babylon Sisters
Everything You Did
Glamour Profession
(introduce the band jam)
Kid Charlemagne

Black Friday
Don’t Take Me Alive
(exit music)

They might’ve done a few more. I feel like Monkey in Your Soul and Your Gold Teeth II, but I can’t remember fer sure.  Anyway it was a good time.  Think fast!

New Mixes

I posted new mixes of two of my tunes, and updated the links on my music pages.

The new Fine Red Wine (and alternate take) includes actually mixing the faders, particularly in the intro, and moving pan pots on the horn section. They were supposed to be spread evenly across, but the tenor was standing right where the alto was, panned to the right when it should’ve been panned to the left. Much nicer now, ah.

Angel Or Alien now has a bit of vibes in the intro. This one is an experiment. I’m not sure I like the way the drums come in, so I added simple chord to back up the synth and set up the drums. I think its an improvement but I’m still not sure it’s what I’m after.  Might want to do something more with it, but maybe better just to let it go.

New Recording: Fine Red Wine Rough Mix

(River Flows Like) Fine Red Wine
Fine Red Wine (Alternate Take)

I was inspired to do a love song after Jeannie and I celebrated our Twennyversary. It’s basically a classic R&B kind of groove and the changes are all based on the 7th chords. It also has intro which uses an ostinato over descending bass line that wraps around, creating some dark and interesting chords. (This intro is a bit unusual for me in that almost everything I’ve written for this project so far and for the Brothers Zing before tend to have chord progressions that move upward. Regard this as a coincidence, or maybe a phase I’m going thru, but I noticed it and think it’s kind of intriguing.) No worries though, the main riff moves upward. As so often happens, I had a couple musical patterns I was playing around with and the lyric made the whole thing come together.

It’s a fun number to play, and fairly easy compared to a lot of my tunes. I laid down the vocals fairly quickly. The harmony was pretty spontaneous, I didn’t really try and work it out ahead of time. I just had an idea and decided to go for it. I like the way it came out. It has bit of a rough quality to it, but I think that’s part of its charm. I put a full horn section arrangement on it. Four saxophones: soprano, alto tenor and baritone. Thanks again to Martin for loaning me his bari sax. I had so much fun playing it I decided to give the bari a solo. This turned out to be great song to solo on, and I did a few takes. In the end, I mixed down a second version with alternate takes of the solos.

This is the fourth song in my current recording project, so I have a logical album side or virtual EP. I have another set of tunes ready to start in on, but I want to take a break, so I’ll probably mix and master this set before starting in on the next batch. So watch this space.

Meanwhile, Martin has agreed to add some guitar tracks to these tunes. This should be interesting and cool. I really enjoyed working with him on the BZ project. He’s a versatile and creative musician who is good at coming up with parts that contribute to the arrangement, often in unexpected ways. By the end of the BZ project our writing and arranging was growing closer, and was looking forward to continuing with that. However Martin had other things going on at the time. So I continued on my own, and it was difficult at first because: 1.) it’s good to have a creative partner to bounce ideas off of, and 2.) everything takes twice as long when your doing it by yourself, and 3.) it’s hard to make rock music without a guitar in there. But I decided not to worry about it and went ahead and made my peace with not having a guitars in the arrangements, and you know, took it as a creative challenge.  As it turns out I’m actually quite happy with this set of tunes. Now some time has gone by and Martin is putting back together his recording studio again, and says it’ll be good way to get back into recording to help me with these tracks. So I’m thinking of it something like Andy Summers sitting in on Nothing Like the Sun. We’ll see where this leads and what influence it has on the second side of the record.


Before we get too far into summer I thought I’d take a moment to update my online photo galleries with pictures from last fall, winter and spring. My how the time flies. I have three new galleries. The first is a general one, covering birthdays and xmastime and various house projects and a selection of photos that Lizzy took of things that interest her. Then there’s one from our trip to the Caribbean last winter (Aaah!) and to Mohonk last spring (thanks Martin for supplying most of these). These are friends and family galleries, so the site is password protected. Please contact me if you want the password. But, people in the wider world, an update to the pubic galleries is in the offing, including all kinds of new origami (are you surprised?) and a study of the New York City skyline.