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Donald Fagen: Morph the Cat

AAJ Italy Staff By

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Donald Fagen sta al rock come Duke Ellington stava al jazz. Non sarà per i continui attestati di stima che la mente degli Steely Dan spesso gli tributa, ma l’attitudine nella creazione e nell’arrangiamento, l’eleganza nella scelta timbrica e armonica, la condotta delle parti e la ricerca melodica come filo labile da cucire nella stoffa preziosa della song form, rimandano spesso agli insegnamenti di Ellington.

L’altro elemento portante e decisivo è la letterarietà dei testi. A volte criptici, a volte ironici, a volte sofisticati sono l’emblema, spesso in felice contrasto con la musica, di un intellettuale prestato al rock (un “giustiziere delle note”) che ritiene il reggae l’ultima rivoluzione musicale, non ama il rap per la scarsa vena creativa musicale, detesta i campionamenti e l’utilizzo massiccio di sintetizzatori - spesso stonati, dice - affindandosi al piano Rhodes e al Wurlizter.

Da Nightfly a Morph the Cat sono passati ventiquattro anni. Quasi un quarto di secolo nel quale sono accadute tante cose: il ritorno degli Steely Dan (Alive in America, Two Against Nature e Everything Must Go), un po’ di grammy awards, nuovi tour e l’11 settembre.

Se l’inarrivabile The Nightfly rappresentava i sogni di un adolescente, il futurismo di Kamakiriad era una riflessione sulla mezza età, Morph the Cat chiude questa immaginaria trilogia sull’età dell’uomo, muovendosi nei sentieri dell’oscurità e della morte. Le scelta grafica del libretto del cd, virato in bianco e nero con qualche esplosione di rosso, rende ancora più realistico il leitmotiv dell'album. La “fine” in tutto il nuovo disco sembra avere una carica, sì paranoica e pessimistica, ma più decisamente scaramantica e - come ha affermato l’artista - di decisiva eroticizzazione della società come reazione all’estinzione e alle paure recondite. “Girl you won’t find my name on your list/Honey you know I ain’t no terrorist”, canta in “Security Joan”.

Dal passo minaccioso e felino della title track al dialogo immaginario con Ray Charles (“What I Do”), passando per le sicurezze labili di un rapporto sentimentale (“The Great Pagoda of Funn”) c’è tutto il campionario sonoro (raffinato, meticoloso e razionalizzato) a cui ci ha abituato l’artista. Questo potrebbe essere, paradossalmente, il limite del CD.

Prevedibile. Come il genio di Donald Fagen


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).

Title: Morph The Cat | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Reprise

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