3

Mark Masters: Everything You Did

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Mark Masters: Everything You Did Rock band Steely Dan released Pretzel Logic (ABC) in 1974. The album was big, one its most successful. But with younger audiences unfamiliar with jazz, the disc surely must have caused some confusion, along the lines of: "What in the world is this 'East St. Louis Toodle-oo?' And what are they talking about with 'Parker's Band?'" The former tune, a three-minute instrumental, closed out side one and it was, of course, from the pen of composer/bandleader Duke Ellington. The latter, a Walter Becker/Donald Fagen original, celebrated alto saxophonist/bebop pioneer Charlie Parker. These nods to two jazz giants may have been lost on many of the young and uninitiated, who may not have realized that Becker and Fagen—soon to be the only remaining constant members of Steely Dan—were huge jazz fans.

But bandleader/arranger Mark Masters, on his first encounter with the group, surely knew of these jazz influences, and with Everything You Did he turns his discerning ear—and his marvelous band—onto the music of the jazz-influenced Steely Dan.

Masters' previous CD offerings—having proven himself one of the 21st century's premier arrangers—included nods to Ellington, Clifford Brown, Lee Konitz; Grachan Moncur III; Dewey Redman, and composer George Gershwin—the last with his stellar remake on Porgy and Bess Redefined! (Capri, 2005). While the art of Becker and Fagen may not rise to gravitas of these former Masters subjects, the duo wrote—and still write—catchy, often quirky, sometimes cerebral and always memorably engaging popular tunes. If gravitas is needed, Mark Masters and this all-star ensemble can inject it.

The familiar tunes are from Steely Dan's early days, when rock radio was still vibrant, including "Bodhisattva," "Show Biz Kids" and "Do It Again." And then there's "Aja," "Josie" and "Black Cow," from the group's best album, Aja (ABC, 1977), a set that included Wayne Shorter and Tom Scott on saxophones, if anyone's looking for jazz cred.

The music, under the baton of Masters, retains its charm and its quirkiness while taking on the beautiful harmonic foundation of a first-rate jazz ensemble, one enhanced an orchestral direction with the inclusion of bassoon, bass clarinet, vibes, and French and English horns. The added bonus—and this is what jazz, in large part, is all about—is the room allowed for lots of magnificent soloing from the likes of trumpeter Tim Hagans, baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan and alto saxophonist Gary Foster—players who here, as on previous Masters outings, are inspired to the highest level of performance acumen.

"Black Cow" has to be singled out. The original is a Steely Dan classic. Opening with an ominous bass line, it slips into a slinky groove, polished to a high sheen by vibraphonist Brad Dutz, an featuring the every-woman voice of Anna Mjoll, who sounds resigned, a bit exasperated as she sings: "I'm the one who must make everything right."

She makes it exactly right, as does the Mark Masters Ensemble.

Track Listing: Show Biz Kids; Bodhisattva; Do It Again; Charlie Freak; Black Cow; Josie; Fire In The Hole; Kings; Aja; Chain Lightning.

Personnel: Tim Hagans: trumpet; Louis Fasman: trumpet; Les Lovitt: trumpet; Stephanie O'Keefe: French horn; Sonny Simmons: English horn (3); Dave Woodley: trombone (9); Les Benedict: trombone; Dave Ryan: trombone; Ryan Dragon: trombone; Oliver Lake: alto saxophone (10); Gary Foster: alto saxophone (7); Don Shelton: alto and soprano saxophones, alto flute; Billy Harper: tenor saxophone; John Mitchell: tenor saxophone, bassoon; Gene Cipriano: tenor saxophone; Brian Williams: bass clarinet; Brad Dutz: vibes, percussion; Hamilton Price: bass; Peter Erskine: drums; Anna Mjöll: voice; Mark Masters: arrangements.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Capri Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Reflections CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Back In Your Own Backyard CD/LP/Track Review Back In Your Own Backyard
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Greatest Licks - I Feel Like Singin' CD/LP/Track Review Greatest Licks - I Feel Like Singin'
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Through The Glass CD/LP/Track Review Through The Glass
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Circles CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Goodbye to Language" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye to Language
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Schönbrunn" CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read "Coldest Second Yesterday" CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Brian Bromberg" CD/LP/Track Review Brian Bromberg
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 28, 2016
Read "Jim Crow's Tears" CD/LP/Track Review Jim Crow's Tears
by James Nadal
Published: November 10, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!