CM: Captain Midnight
HK: Harvey Kubernik
DF: Donald Fagen
RC: Richard Comelin
WB: Walter Becker
HK: We have an oddity to play.
RC: Okay, then we're gonna let Becker and Fagen of Steely Dan completely swamp us with their goshdarn jazz.
Plays "Canyon Ladies" by Navasota, "Bring The Whole Family" by Terry Boylan and "Dallas" by Steely Dan.
HK: Some interesting goodies from the Steely Dan archives. First thing up was a song called "Cannon Ladies"...
WB: Canyon. Canyon.
HK: Canyon? As in Joni. A Fagen-Becker composition that was on a Navasota album that the duo played some bass, piano and arranged some horns...
WB: Just a minute. Just a minute. The duo did not play any bass on this album. Let's keep our discography accurate.
HK: Okay, that was your stint with Navasota. Then there was an earlier thing with "Alias Boona" the name of the album and the guy's name was Boylan. I guess that you played piano and organ and bass and guitar.
WB: Terry Boylan. Known to his immediate relatives as Boona. And he's got an album coming out any year now on the, uh, Capitol label?
DF: No, I don't know. Elektra, or something.
WB: One of those labels.
HK: Can we have any info on this guy? Did you do any live gigs with him at all?
DF: Yes, we did one live gig in Princeton, New Jersey, as I recall. That was a big thing for us. The only interesting thing about this album, I think, is that it was our first studio gig.
HK: And we also heard a song called "Dallas" with Jimmy Hodder singing lead. I guess the first single that Steely Dan as a collective unit had cut.
DF: That's right. Absolutely right.
HK: I tell you what, why don't we take a couple phone calls?
RC: And Becker and Fagen are starting to pick the songs now, so who knows what's going to happen.
WB: Well, I'll tell you what's going to happen, you have a picture of Lester Young and it says "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" and I just happen to've brought an album called "Mingus Ah Um" which has a recording of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" on it and it's Side One, cut two. Why don't we spin that disc?
RC: But we've got another one lined up. Do you wanna hit that one first?
WB: No, Richard, I think I'd rather hear "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat."
RC: You're making things difficult.
HK: He went to Bard College.
WB: I went to Bard College -- but not so's you'd notice.
Plays "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat."
WB: Okay, that ws "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" off the "Mingus Ah Um" record featuring the following musicians: John Handy and Booker Ervin, tenor solor by John Handy; Horace Parlan on piano; Booker "The Cooker" Ervin is not with us any more, by the way; Danny Richmond on drums; Jimmy Knepper and Willie Dennis on trombones; Shafi Hadi on sax and that's the lineup and you can still buy that album on the Columbia label and it's called "Mingus Ah Um." And it's got such tunes on it as "Better Git It In Your Soul," "Boogie Stop Shuffle," "Fables of Faubus" -- not the original "Fables of Faubus," but "Fables of Faubus" -- and so on and so forth.
CM: It's also got "Jelly Roll" on it.
WB: Formerly known as "My Jelly Roll Soul."
CM: You guys wanna hear some blues?
DF: Sure do.
HK: We've got a Bobby Blue Bland record here...
WB: If you had a Bobby Blue Bland record there, I'd sure love to hear it.
Plays: Bobby Blue Bland; Charlie Parker Sextet, "Bongo Beep"; and Steely Dan, "Parker's Band."
WB: Right, now the first thing you heard was the Charlie Parker Sextet featuring Charlie Parker on alto sax as almost always; Miles Davis on trumpet fresh out of St. Louis; J.J. Johnson on trombone, although he doesn't always get an album credit on many bootleg editions of this record -- taking the second solo before Miles Davis' trumpet solo; Duke Jordan, fine piano player; Tommy Potter on bass and Max Roach on drums. And the tune was called "Bongo Beep." And after that you heard Steely Dan doing "Parker's Band." And the real-life discography -- no calls please -- on that one was that there were two drummers on the album, one named Jeff Porcaro, one named Jim Gordon; yours truly Walter Becker on bass; Donald Fagen on vocals; Walter Becker on vocals; Jimmy Hodder on vocals and Plas Johnson on the alto saxophones at the end. Both pieces in the key of C.
RC: And of course Charlie Parker the inspiration. If you haven't gathered, these guys are from Steely Dan...
DF: Excuse me, that's B flat, I'm sorry. Walter erred.
RC: Okay, B flat, got that?
WB: I think the piece is in the key of C.
DF: No, I'm sure it was B flat.
RC: Well, there's a piano in the next room.
WB: Why don't we just have you run up to the piano and check it in the next room?
DF: I'll be right back.
WB: Okay. I'll be waiting right here. When I'm wrong, I'm wrong, folks.
RC: If anybody else wants to talk to the reclusive kings of rock 'n' roll...
HK: You know what was really good? The New Times article. Did you like that article?
WB: What is New Times? Oh, where they got William Burroughs to say something besides "mmmm"!
HK: That was kind of interesting.
WB: Yes, I would like to point out that for those people who did read the New Times article that, well, there was a reference in there to a tune which had something to do with Hitler and the tune was incorrectly identified... and the piece is in the key of...
DF: What? Oh, I can't find the piano! (Laughter)
CM: I got the key if it's locked up.
WB: Okay, piano's locked up so we can't find the key.
RC: ... tune about Hitler incorrectly identified what?
WB: He incorrectly identified "Pretzel Logic" as a tune about Adolf Hitler, which is not the case whatsoever, since you mentioned that article. Why isn't my theme music playing, here?
HK: Our journalistic question of the night. What kind of fan mail that you guys get -- you must get all kinds of lyrical dissections and what do the songs mean and things like that?
WB: We get a lot of questions. The thing is, we don't get to ask a lot of questions, especially of journalists like Richard Cromelin, who's interviewed us -- Richard, how many times have you interviewed us?
RC: Counting on the phone?
WB: Counting on the phone.
RC: Counting brush-offs?
WB: Counting brush-offs.
RC: Downright orneriness?
WB: Downright orneriness, and occasions when one but not both of us showed up.
WB: Five times. Have you promised not to interview us any further?
RC: Well, I didn't realize it was on the oath-taking level.
Caller: Hello to Donald and Walter.
DF: Hi, there.
Caller: Yes, I'd like to ask a few things. First, how did Wayne Shorter become involved with the new record and if that was a particularly gratifying musical experience. And second, if you are at all familiar with his music, could you give me your impression of Keith Jarrett as a composer and pianist?
DF: Okay, the answer to both your first two questions are yes. And... RC: No, the first question can't be answered yes. That was how did Wayne Shorter come to play on the new album.
DF: Oh, is that what he said?
HK: How many songs does he play on?
WB: At great length. He plays on only one song.
DF: Yeah, what was the final question? I didn't quite catch that.
Caller: I was curious as to your impression of Keith Jarrett as a composer and pianist.
DF: Yeah, love 'im, love 'im.
Caller: Have you ever seen him live?
DF: Yes, I saw him many years ago when he was a sideman with -- what was the name of that crazy guy?
WB: Oh, the tenor player? Charles Lloyd. Yeah, that was too bad.
Caller: Are you familiar with his solo piano records on ECM?
DF: No, I've heard several other of his records, though.
WB: I heard one of them once. It's very good, very boring type of music.
CM: No, no, no, no, no.
DF: He's sort of unpredictable. You never know what's going to be on a Keith Jarrett record.
WB: He really hits the keys hard. He must have a very strong pinkie.
CM: Check out the Bremen concerts. ECM double album.
Caller: Okay, that's all I wanted to know, thank you.
CM: We got Richard Cromelin and Steely Dan and Harvey Kubernik from Melody Maker here. We're making some melodies from Yvette Mimieux in the background.
RC: While we're in the midst of all this jazz, I'd like to ask a pertinent question. How come you guys just didn't start a jazz group? What made you want to get into the pop area?
DF: Well, we're not good enough, Richard. We can't play that fast, you see. So we had to start a rock 'n' roll group.
RC: So Steely Dan is a great compromise?
DF: Yeah, you might say that. We know our limitations, let's put it that way.
RC: Okay, fair enough. Wanna hear some more jazz?
DF: Yeah, let's hear some jazz.
Plays "Aja" by Steely Dan, "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" by Duke Ellington and Steely Dan's version of the same song.
DF: The first version of "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" you heard was Duke Ellington and his Washingtonians from 1927 and then the next version you heard was Steely Dan. Jim Gordon on drums, Donald Fagen on piano, Walter Becker on guitar, Dean Parks on banjo, I believe, and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter on pedal steel guitar.
WB: And Roger Nichols on gong.
CM: Where was that recorded?
DF: At Village Recorders here in west L.A.
HK: So there's three or four different versions, right, which you were mentioning?
WB: There were four versions recorded by Duke Ellington and a few of them are still available and we did obtain the three available versions and collate from them the best parts of each, since they varied slightly in detail and in arrangement.
Caller: Good morning. Okay, this is for Donald Fagen, that's the keyboardist, right? After Keith Jarrett left Miles Davis in 1970-71, he recorded two albums in Oslo. They're called Piano Improvisations Volumes One and Two. Are you familiar with them?
DF: No, but the Captain is here. But I trust that they're absolutely wonderful.
Caller: They're on acoustic piano, none of the electric stuff. Also, how about playing some Cecil Taylor?
DF: Cecil Taylor?
CM: Nefertiti, yeah.
WB: No, Cecil Taylor is not on Nefertiti. Cecil Taylor can't play at all, as far as I can tell, but I hope he's not listening.
Caller: Well, I'm listening and I think that's a terrible thing to say.
WB: Are you Cecil Taylor? Is this Cecil Taylor I'm talking to?
Caller: No, I'm white.
WB: You're who?
DF: Get this guy off the air.
WB: Hey, you're cancelled.
Caller: I waited 20 minutes...
WB: We're refunding your $25. Your 40 minutes is being refunded.
DF: Listen, one thing, can you please send back the folio? (Laughter.)
WB: We need all the folios we can get here.
CM: You're right about Cecil Taylor. Could I ask a question?
WB: Just 'cause it's your show I suppose you can ask one. Hey, that's Yvette that you knew when she was 11 years old and very nubile.
HK: Did you ever see her in Dr. Kildare and the Tiger Tiger?
CM: No, I lost interest when she turned 12.
RC: You wanted to ask a question?
CM: Yeah, right, you said Keith Jarrett played too slow for you. You said jazz was too fast, you couldn't be jazz musicians because you couldn't keep up, and Keith Jarrett plays too slow.
DF: No, I didn't say he played too slow, did you?
WB: I don't remember saying that.
CM: Well, what have you got against him musicially?
WB: Oh, solo piano. You mentioned solo piano and that's inherently a hard thing to sustain, even for a master pianist like Keith Jarrett.
CM: Not enough goin' on, huh?
WB: It's just a toughie and he tends to be very diatonic, I've noticed.
DF: I think he's a very fine composer.
RC: What's wrong with Cecil Taylor?
WB: I don't know -- that's between him and his psychiatrist. And Mr. White who just called in.
RC: Was that Terry White?
WB: I don't know. It wasn't Barry White!
DF: We could really explode some avant garde myths here tonight. You know, there's a lot of jazz that's really terrible that sems to come out of New York mostly. You know guys playing the inside of the piano and so on and not to take away from the guys who are good at it, but there's a lot of stuff that people tend to think is good just because it's out of the sewers of New York.
CM: You've heard of Anthony Braxton?
DF: Yeah, I've heard about him.
WB: He's a good example of ...
DF: ...just what I'm talking about, really.
WB: ...a saxophone owner. But that's a matter of opinion again. I mean, there are people who think he's the finest.
HK: There was a time when you two were staff writers for Wingate Music, part of the ABC publishing house and you wrote a couple of things that John Kay recorded, a song on a Barbra Joan Streisand album.
WB: We're not actually at liberty to discuss Wingate Music.
HK: You're gonna hear the records, though.
WB: ... because of the pending litigation, but okay, go ahead.
HK: Okay, we've got a couple things, a couple of cover versions of lyrics that you had written and maybe you'd like to comment on...
WB: Well, they may be cover versions, but I dont think we ever did the undercover versions of the things you're about to play. I'm not sure what you have there. If you have a Barbra Joan Steisand record then it's not a cover version, it's just a ...
CM: That's what I got.
HK: How about filling us up on the hitory of that? How she obtained the lyrics?
WB: Oh, I'll tell you how she obtained the lyrics. Oh, Don, would you like to?
RC: Since Don played organ on the cut.
WB: Yeah, Don, why don't you tell 'em the complete story?
HK: Don, clad in gray corduroy pants and black T-shirt.
DF: What is this, fashion central or something?
WB: Disco fashion.
HK: No baseball jersey, or anything.
DF: No, this was recorded in the '60s by Barbra Streisand. We were trying at the time to get anybody to do our songs and she seemed like a likely suspect to us and here it is. It's called "I Mean To Shine."
Plays "Barbra Joan Streisand"
RC: Actually, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen should explain exactly the make-up of this group, Steely Dan, because people seem to get confused about who is in the group, who isn't in the group. What is the group?
DF: Okay. Here's the story, folks. We used to be a rock 'n' roll group and now we're not. We fired all the rest of the guys and now it's just Walter and me.
WB: And Denny.
DF: And Denny, and we have the musicians we think will perform well in individual songs and that's the score. And Jimmy Johnstone does our lights. He's an English guy -- is that his name, Jimmy Johnstone?
WB: Jimmy Something.
DF: Jimmy... I can't remember his name.
WB: I know he has a nunchuk in his briefcase. He's this short English guy.
RC: Some of the musicians you hire are very gifted and expensive.
WB: All of the musicians we hire are very gifted and expensive. Time is money to them.
RC: Tell us a little about the album you've just finished. It's called Aja.
DF: Right, Aja, which is the name of a Korean colleen, if you will.
CM: Must be a lady, huh?
RC: This is the album that you started when ... about a year ago?
DF: Yeah, we started this about a year ago.
WB: A little less than a year ago.
DF: I don't know, these things take a long time.
RC: Why do your albums take so long?
DF: That's a good question, you know. Just the other day, I saw what the date was and realized that a year had indeed passed since the release of our last album and I don't know, I guess maybe we're too leisurely about the pace, although it sems like we work very hard on it.
RC: If everything is planned out and arranged in advance...
DF: You would think it would go pretty quick, wouldn't you?
RC: Is it hard to play? Do you have to do a lot of takes?
DF: Yeah, it's hard to play. We throw away a lot of stuff. We do a lot of stuff over and it takes a long time.
RC: What sort of new approaches might we hear in this new album, which was originally supposed to be out this month but will be out when -- in August?
DF: I think the release date is August.
RC: Any new nuances?
DF: Not really. We worked the way we have been for the last couple albums.
WB: Actually, if we answered that question we'd be putting you out of a job, wouldn't we?
RC: Would you?
WB: Wouldn't we?
HK: If you'd like to speak to Steely Dan -- Donald Fagen and Walter Becker...
WB: Stevie. Stevie Dan.
HK: Mr. Stevie Dan.
RC: Tell us about this character who the last time we saw you on stage live in person with all your complement of musicians, etc. A nice gentleman came out and gave you a rousing introduction.
DF: Yes, that was Jerome. Jerome Amaton.
WB: Aniton. A-N-I-T-O-N.
DF: Right. He introduced us every night and he actually drove the truck with the sound equipment in it, and he was quite a cowboy at the wheel, as I recall.
WB: He was a helluva driver. He drove from Baltimore to Minneapolis with no headlights on.
DF: Not to mention the two fifteen-year-old girls in the front seat -- BUT we'll get to that another night.
WB: That's definitely the main act for you.
HK: Looking back a few years when you did tour, do you have any tour highlights, any favorite shows or maybe something...
WB: Lemme look back. (Laughter.)
HK: He's looking back at the clock on the wall.
WB: All I see is a bottle of alcohol and that's hardly a tour highlight, except for maybe Jerome Aniton.
RC: Well, what was your most disastrous show ever, let's put it that way?
HK: Couple of firecrackers at the Long Beach Auditorium?
WB: No, no, you weren't there at our most disastrous show. Our most disastrous show was somewhere in North Carolina. Remember the show you wanted to go home after? When the truck arrived two and a half hours late 'cause of the rainstorm.
DF: No, I remember the one where I plunged a speaker screw about three inches into my skull and got onto the stage and bled through the set. That was in Philadelphia.
RC: Did the audience appreciate that?
DF: It did give a sort of Grand Guignol effect.
WB: They thought it was part of the show. And there was a show once in Philadelphia at a nightclub where a former lead singer of ours did sing an entire set a half-tone flat.
RC: But he was consistent.
WB: Consistent. And if that wasn't enough, he did see fit to split his pants -- and it was a nightclub so there were people sitting at a table right in front of him.
DF: I thought it was a helluva show.
WB: It was a helluva show until they taped his pants up. Oh, we've got a phone call. Oh, we're hot, hot, hot.
CM: I think we have a gentleman of European persuasion on the phone.
Caller: Speaking of live gigs, is Steely Dan planning to have a live album perhaps in the near future?
DF: We've been thinking of prehaps recording on our next tour, but comme ci, comme ca.
RC: I heard that last year.
DF: Richard'll have the lowdown on this for the next six months.
WB: Richard Cromelin could probably answer that question because he seems to know more about our troop movements than we do.
RC: Another question please, listener?
Caller: I would like to place a request, if that's possible. Could you play something off the new record?
WB: We already did.
Caller: Oh, you did. Was that Wayne Shorter playing?
DF: You betcha.
CM: He, there's an observant listener.
WB: Those European-persuaded gentlemen are really acute on their discography.
RC: Why do they like you so much in Europe, do you suppose?
DF: We're homosexuals! (Laughter.) No, that's not true. I don't know, they tend to like more cerebral music in Europe.
RC: Do they understand the words? Do they learn English so they can...?
WB: No, not even the English understand the words. For example, the English don't know what a pretzel is; they don't know what a scam is.
CM: Like Japan, those Europeans are so fast. Get off a plane in Paris, hop in a cab and you get Creedence Clearwater on the radio.
WB: And a machine gun in your suitcase.
Plays Bill Evan Trio, Steely Dan, Beach Boys and Charlie Parker.
RC: We heard the Bill Evans Trio -- what was the cut, do you remember?
WB: Nordis was the cut.
RC: Something called Black Cow by tonight's mystery group, then for some reason we heard Wouldn't It Be Nice? by the Beach Boys, which did fit somehow, and then Charlie Parker with a cut called...
WB: Charlie Parker Quintet featuring Miles "Dewey" Davis, Duke Jordan on piano...
DF: And the rest of the guys.
WF: And the rest of the guys.
RC: Okay, as we come up on four o'clock we're gonna say goodnight to Don Fagen and Walter Becker now that we've revived Steely Dan's career.
Last modified on Sun Feb 04 23:31:26 1996