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Donald Fagen's third solo CD, his first such recording in thirteen years, blends jazz, soul, funk and just about every other musical influence you can name on nine new songs whose subject matter runs the gamut. The eclectic songs on Morph The Cat cover some interesting topics: a romantic interlude with an airport security guard ("Security Joan"); a conversation with the ghost of the late Ray Charles ("What I Do"); mortality ("Brite Nightgown"); and a cult taking over the US government, leaving us with the harsh reality of the world we now live in ("Mary Shut The Garden Door"). Interestingly, this song was written after the Republican National Convention ran roughshod through Manhattan.
Morph The Cat is highlighted by the unique vision and storytelling that Fagen has perfected over the past 35 years. It sounds more like Steely Dan than either of Fagen's two previous solo excursions. The first single, "H Gang," has the chord changes and horn arrangements that Steely Dan fans have grown to know, love and expect.
Morph The Cat is a carefully constructed and arranged song cycle that is more textured, detailed and intricate than it first appears. Fagen delivers his usual sophisticated mélange of out-there lyrics, both vivid and haunting, creating both an audio tapestry and a remarkable theater of the mind. The music is so cool and vibrant that the only real way to hear the disc is to find the dual-disc version, turn off all the lights, turn up the volume and play the DVD side. This CD screams to be listened to in high-resolution audio and 5.1 Surround Sound.
This recording is essential listening for fans of progressive jazz vocalists whose arrangements incorporate the essence of the American musical art formjazz, gospel, blues, rock and pop.
Track Listing: Morph the Cat; H Gang; What I Do; Brite Nightgown; The Grand Pagoda of Funn; Security Joan;
The Night Belongs to Mona; Mary Shut the Garden Door; Morph the Cat (reprise).
Personnel: Donald Fagen: Fender piano, piano, organ, melodica solo (8), vocals, backup vocals; Keith
Carlock: drums; Freddie Washington: bass guitar, Harlan Post Jr.: acoustic bass; Brian
Montgomery: remedial bass guitar (9); Jon Herington: guitar, guitar solos (1, 2), chorus
solo (9); Wayne Krantz: guitar, guitar solos (4,5); Hugh McCracken: guitar (1-3,9); Frank
Vignola: guitar (1), tag guitar solo (9); Ken Emerson: guitar (3); Ken Wessel: guitar solo (6);
Phonus Quaver: vibes and marimba (1,9), marimba (4), vibes (5,8); Ted Baker: piano (2,5),
whirly piano (3,6), Fender piano (7,8); Marvin Stamm (trumpet; Walt Weiskopf: tenor
saxophone, tenor saxophone solo (1,2), alto saxophone (4); Mark Patterson: trombone;
Lawrence Feldman: clarinet (2), tenor saxophone (4,5), flute (7); Roger Rosenberg: baritone
saxophone, bass clarinet; Gordon Gottlieb: percussion (2,4,6-8); Bashiri Johnson:
percussion (4); Joe Pasaro: percussion (5); Jerry Barnes: backup vocals (1,5,9); Michael
Harvey: backup vocals (1,6,9); Amy Helm: backup vocals (3); Carolyn Leonhart: backup
vocals (3,8); Cindy Mizelle: backup vocals (3); Howard Levy: harmonica (7), harmonica solo
(3); Illinois Elohainu: flute (8).
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...