Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mark Masters - Everything You Did

The music of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen
Steely Dan revisited
Hans Koert

It felt rather exciting to learn that Mark Masters had recorded a new album … Since I first heard the ensemble in its previous album, entitled Ellington Saxophone Encounters  …. contributed to the music of Ellington’s band, I couldn’t wait to hear his latest album, entitled Everything You Did.
This time Mark Masters and his Ensemble honored the music of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who founded early 1970s the rock band Steelly Dan.

Steely Dan (1973) ( source: Wikipedia) 
Frank Foster
(photo courtesy: Hans Koert)
It was not that Mark Master, who is an honoured arranger and president of the American Jazz Institute (Pasadena CA)  got an impulse to arrange the music of this popular rock band. I became intrigued with Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s songwriting abilities when I heard their long playing phonograph record AJA in 1977, Mark says in the liner notes. Thomas Burns, president of Capri records, says: This album was not a real surprise: Mark and I have discussed the Steely Dan project many times over the years as he has been contemplating doing it since he first began writing over 35 years ago. I’m surprised we took this long to make it, but Mark is a man of many ideas …  It took three years to raise funds for making this record and …. To be honest – this one is another great release by Mark Master’s Ensemble.
Enjoy this fragment of Fire in the Hole –  an early composition by Walter Becker and Donals Fagen, released for the very first time at their 1973 album Can’t Buy a Thrill, now played by Mark Masters Ensemble with a great role of Gary Foster on alto saxophone.

To be honest – being a jazz man in heart and soul, I’m just a layman in the music of Steely Dan and other Rock bands ….. so I was  forced to go into that subject. The ensemble, which features, like in the previous album Ellington Saxophone Encouters, great names like Gary Smulyan and Gary Foster (one track)  also drummer Peter Erskine who played in Steely Dan for some times …. I was a surprised as anyone else when Steely Dan called me in 1993 to be the drummer for the band’s first tour in twenty years. ….

Gary Foster ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

The album contains ten tracks …. All known and less known Steely Dan compositions and arranged by Mark Masters.  You will find some well known hits like AJA, which inspired Masters as you may remember and Do It Again, which was a hit in 1972, with some various English horn solos by Gene Cipriano and Sonny Simmons, John Mitchell on bassoon and John Mitchell on French horn ….. Bariton gigant Gary Smulyan is also present on that track, which belongs to one of my favorites for this album. 

Gary Smulyan ( photo courtesy:  Hans Koert)
Less known compositions are Show Bizz Kids and Bodhisattva, both recorded in 1973 at the Steely Dan SPB album Countdown To Ecstacy. Chain Lightning, which closes the album, has solos by Don Shelton, trombonist Ryan Dragon, Oliver Lake, Hamilton Price on bass and Gary Smulyan is from the 1975 Steely Dan album Katy Lied.

Another great album by top-arranger Mark Masters ………. Find yourself a copy.

MY JAZZ LINKS: Mark Masters Ensemble

Keep Swinging
Hans Koert
Follow the Keep (it) Swinging blog at Facwebook or ask its free newsletter.

Ten months ago I first heard the Mark Masters Ensemble in its album dedicated to the music of Duke Ellington, so I was very anxious to hear Mark's latest album, entitled Everything You Did. This album is dedicated to the music of the rockband Steely Dan and the compositions of its founders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.  Another proof that Mark Masters is an excellent arranger.

Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

No comments:

Post a Comment