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Live Reviews

Donald Fagen Band at the Chicago Theatre

By Published: March 22, 2006
Local harmonica whiz Howard Levy joined the band for "What I Do, Fagen's deep-soul conversation with the ghost of Ray Charles, which was followed by "Misery and the Blues, a Jack Teagarden tribute with an unerring kick/snare pulse from Carlock and reach-for-the-moon, high-octave trumpet solo from Michael Leonhart worthy of—and, perhaps, paying tribute to—Teagarden's longtime employer Louis Armstrong. The set closed with a leave-em-happy version of Steely Dan's "FM, and after a brief encore of Chuck Berry's "Viva Rock and Roll," that was it—fourteen tunes, ninety minutes. The fans, of course, wanted more—but one suspects that this is the maximum concert length to ensure that Fagen's never-invulnerable vocal chords, which showed strain occasionally, make it through a tour. Great though the band is, the leader's the essential member, and he has to sing.

Fagen and band played some classic songs—and some new ones—impeccably. He's never been about anarchy or abandon—there's always a veneer of cool in his work—but those restrictions understood, this is probably the funkiest touring band playing this spring. This is very much a group worth seeing live.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of

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