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Donald Fagen

Donald Fagen’s Morph The Cat is just your average soulful and sexy masterpiece about love, death and homeland defense. “There’s nothing sexier than the Apocalypse,” Fagen explains helpfully. “I suppose you could call this album Apocalypse Wow.”

The darkly beautiful third solo effort from Fagen - the longtime co-leader of Steely Dan - follows 1981’s classic The Nightfly and 1993’s acclaimed Kamakiriad, and represents the latest installment in what now appears to be a powerful and at times deeply personal trilogy. “The Nightfly is sort of looking from the standpoint of youth, “Fagen explains. “Kamakiriad would be more about midlife. This new one is about endings really. So in a way this really has become a sort of trilogy. In fact, there are plans to put all three albums out in a box where they belong.”

Along with his recording and touring with the reconstituted Steely Dan over the past decade, the inspired Morph The Cat offers the latest evidence that Fagen - whose long bout with writer’s block ate up much of the Eighties - has become some sort of late-blooming workhorse. How does Fagen explain his productivity of late? “I don’t know - marriage?” offers Fagen who married singer-songwriter Libby Titus in 1993. “Marriage is good, but I think I’ve actually been fairly consistent except for that spell in the Eighties. Other than that time, I’ve either been recording or touring pretty solidly. And I’m always writing - I have a lot of cassettes in a box with ideas.”

The material that Fagen wrote for Morph The Cat goes back a number of years, but the project crystallized in the past two years as he began to ponder life and death issues in a new way. “I’m starting to get older, and began to think about mortality a little more,” says Fagen. “My mother died in 2003 and that was a big shock. When your parents start to die off, that’s going to be a revelation. So for me, this album - although it might sound quite cheery - is really talking a lot about death.”

On first impression, for instance, the appearance of the album’s title character “Morph The Cat” might sound like some adorable feline visitation. Yet by the time this characteristically groovy and jazzy title tune reprises at the end of the album - following the vaguely frightening “Mary Shut The Garden Door” - it becomes clear Morph might be more Trojan Horse than just some warm and fuzzy pussy. “Yeah,” Fagen says by way of confirmation, “Morph is only fuzzy on first impression.” In his liner notes, Fagen describes the infectious song’s storyline thusly: “A vast, ghostly cat-thing descends on New York City, bestowing on its citizens a kind of ecstasy.”

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Kam Falk
bass, electric
Phil Traynor
bass, electric
Dimitri Gollety
composer / conductor
Modern Times Ensemble
band / orchestra




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