Edmonton Journal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on June 29, 2008 · 2
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Edmonton Journal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada · 2

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mutt 6r EDMONTON JOURNAL CULTURE B5 SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 2008 Great crowds generate jazz fever Edmonton festival draws enthusiastic audiences and a few neady full houses Mi ft-. J " 1, A3- SUPPLIED Steely Dan vocalist keyboardist Donald Fagen, left, and guitarist Walter Becker continue to record 36 years after their 1972 debut, Can't Buy A Thrill, Steely Dan chart groove that got them to the top Shared a passion for jazz, rhythm n' blues BERNARD PERUSSE Montreal Gazette It's been said that although Steely Dan are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the duo singer and keyboard player Donald Fagen and guitarist Walter Becker nevertruly enjoyed rock. Certainly you won't find much backbeat boogie on Dan discs, which are often filled with tricky arrangements, urban noir tales and jazz-quality chops. But, uncomfortable with rock? Fagen is not so sure. "It has to do with how old you are and where you start the story," he said in a phone interview as they set out on a tour of Eastern Canada. "I started listening to Chuck Berry when I was a kid, and Fats Domino and Ray Charles and so on, which preceded what they now call rock'n'roll which is, essentially, when white people started trying to sing rhythm 'n' blues and combining it with country music. "I'm very comfortable with rhythm 'n' blues, which has a lot in common with jazz. A lot of early rhythm 'n' blues has a lot of bebop elements like Ray Charles or the Buddy Johnson band, which were like jazz withabackbeat,"he said. When Fagen and Becker met at New York's Bard College in 1967, those proto-rock elements were only part of what brought them together and into bands like the Bad Rock Group, which featured Chevy Chase on drums. "For one thing, Walter and I were both jazz fans, which was a little unusual at the time. We had both been jazz fans as kids, so we had a lot to talk about on that score," Fagen said. "And, like a lot of other guys in our generation, we were also interested in blues and soul music We had bothbeen in blues bands as teenagers." Oneofthemostsurrealchaptersinthe Steely Dan saga was written a fewyears later, as Fagen and Becker took a stab at selling their songs in New York City's Brill Building. In mat famous structure, some songwriters created hits, while others struggled to interest publishers and other music business players in their latest compositions often with a piano as sole accompaniment. Neil Sedaka and Howie Greenfield, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich are among the gold-record gods of the hook who passed through the Brill school. But Fagen and Becker? "I think it may have been just before the invention of cassettes," Fagen remembered. "We got our stuff together in a notebook. I'd play piano and we'd both sing. Unfortunately, we picked a day where almost the entire music business was at some big music business convention. Almost no one was in the Brill except a couple of losers in a few loser offices. But we did our presentation. Most people were not interested." Not long after the Brill debacle, Fagen and Becker formed Steely Dan. The group, originally featuring six charter members, recorded Can't Buy aThrill. That album, with its hit singles Do It Again and Reelin'In the Years, was a radio staple in 1972. Countdown to Ecstasy and Pretzel Logic followed, cementing the group's reputation as a literate band thatstoodoutwith offbeat song structures and musical smarts. In 1975, Fagen and Becker put the tours on hold, disbanded the group, kept the name and began to use only session musicians. "Althoughwehada very enthusiastic groupofguysinthe original band, we had been thrown together pretty quickly," Fagen said. "It wasn't exactly our dream band. There were all kinds of problems when we were touring, so we retreated to the studio." The studio years produced a series of Steely Dan classics, including The Royal Scam (1976) and their most suc cessful album, Aja (1977). Famously, seven guitarists tried a solo on the Aja songPegbefore Jay Graydon's wonderful break became the keeper. In a documentary on Aja, filmed for the ClassicAlbums series, guitarist Dean Parks, who played on the record, said there were two stages to creating Aja's music: perfection and beyond perfection. During the second stage, Parks explained, the musicians loosened up the perfectly polished performance so it almost sounded improvised. AfterreleasingGauchoinl980,Fagen and Becker went their separate ways. Solo projects were released along the way and there were occasional collaborations: Beckerproduced Fagen's 1993 e&bumKamakiriad, for example, while Fagen returned the favour for Becker's 11 Tracks of Whack, released the following year. By 1993, Steely Dan were back on the road. By 1997, they were back in the studio. TwoAgainstNature was released in 2000 and won a Grammy the next year. Canwest News Service 66 Walter and I were both jazz fans, which was a little unusual at the time. We had both been jazz fans as kids, so we had a lot to talk about on that score. And, like a lot of other guys in our generation, we were also interested in blues and soul music. We had both been in blues bands as teenagers.5 Donald Fagen I internet thing todd babiak Todd explores the human spirit with Insight and humour In his blog at www.edmontonjournal.oom think About it It's not too late to start your post-secondary education. Start at MacEwan and work towards a degree in... engineering think MacEwan. Visit www.MacEwan.caartssci for more information. ROGER LEVESQUE Special to The Journal EDMONTON Jazz fans, give yourself a round of applause. Heading into the final weekend of the second Edmonton International Jazz Festival, the biggest success story was the sheer enthusiasm of the crowds. Over the pastweekfestival organizers, visiting artists, and this observer have all been pleasantly surprised to witness good crowds, but more significantly, patrons who were seriously thrilled with many of the performances. Festival producer Kent Sangster summed it up Saturday: "The thing I'm really happy about is how people totally dug the music David Liebman mentioned to me how people here really listen to the music, and noted that we have an educated audience here. Sometimes over the months of working towards the festival it can start to feel like a bit of a grind, but today I feel like there's a real momentum happening. We're on good ground." Indirectly of course, this speaks well fortheartisticlevel of this year's festival, the most balanced lineup this city has seen in five years. But it was especially interesting to hear the raucous cheering at shows where nobody really knew what to expect beforehand, dates with Australia's Way Out West, Michael Oc-chipinti's Sicilian Jazz Project, or even the biggest ticket. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra entertained a near-full house, but very little of their program would have been familiar to most of the audience. Even though jazz has a certain reputation for challenging sounds, it seems that the ELJF is building on its own reputation for entertainment value. While the collapse of the Jazz City festival four years ago marked a low point, Sangster feels abroader publicinterest in the music is coming back again. "There are other successful festivals in in II" '' mimik mill ill I m m John Scofield SUMMER'S ON fD3 EDMONTON INTERNATIONAI JAZZ r-bbllVAL (L, JUNE 20 - JUNE 29 edmontonjournal.comfestivals this city that people will go to without really knowing much about specific artists because they have a reputation for quality, and I think we're starting to see some of that loyalty." Ticket sales for most larger concerts at the Maclab or the Winspear continued to rise over recent years, despite competing entertainment options. As of Saturday afternoon there were no com plete sellouts but John Scofield's trio, Molly Johnson and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra came within a few dozen of packing their venues. Saturday's show with Naturally 7 and Sunday's date with Maceo Parker were also looking very good. Liebman and the date with the Edmonton Jazz Orchestra and Hilario Du-ran were both excellent shows that deserved bigger houses but you can't fill them all. Many smaller shows at the Yardbird and Catalyst enjoyed packed crowds, and reports from the other clubs were very positive too. For instance, Four Rooms downtown was humming with activity virtually every night. From the educational angle, the daytime JazzWorks program brought some great inspirations to around 30 student participants. Souvenir sales did well too. Though there are no figures on how many sets of his or hers festival underwear went home, hats were a surprise seller. It's too early to offer any final accounting, but Sangster was confident this year's event would easily breakeven on its original budget of around $450K. He was also justifiably proud of the festival's 150-strong volunteer force: "The consensus I've had from visiting artists is that this is a relaxed but organized festival, and that's a real credit to the volunteers." Final Day at the Jazz Fest The JazzWorks student ensemble performs at the Yardbird Suite at 2 p.m. Then at 7:30 p.m. the Yardbird hosts a doublebill with two of Poland's top jazz musicians, both collaborating with Canadians. Finally, at 10 p.m. the Urban Lounge on White Avenue will be hopping when saxophonist Maceo Parker and his large band play a funky dance party. Parker has collaborated with three generations of funk innovators: James Brown, Par-liament-Funkadelic, and Prince. Where does he get that stuff? Telescope by Terry McConnell In Sunday Reader 1 l McJ f "I LOVE THIS MOVIE!" A.O. Scott, NYTIMES.COM ADAM SANDLER YOU DONT MESS WITH THE r mi. - -Hy ft VouDomHtoMWIll.Tliaomn.com tSsj IJAllf Bl AVIBIift CTtwDirectayorSonyPictinsRelnsingxa ItWW rkMIIHU to Locations iStmtoes dTo ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A VIP TRIP TO MONTREAL FOR THE OSHEAGA MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL -AUGUST 3-4 OSHEAGA! ftSTIVAL MUH QUI CT AlTt MUSIC AND AUTS FlJTIVAl The Killers, MGMT, Jack Johnson and Broken Social Scene - many would think that a show this grand could only happen in the U.S. or over where the Queen sips her tea. But guess again, 'cause this show is going down in Montreal! If you're wondering what Osheaga (pronounced "Oh-shee-eh-gah") is all about, the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is a celebration of Montreal's joie de vivre: equal parts musical fervour, artistic legacy and cultural riches. Enter now for your chance to win return flights to Montreal, two VIP passes to the festival and three nights' hotel stay at the OPUS Montreal! Enter online at dose.cacontests Top 10 Reasons Justin Tlmberiake Needs to Stop Making Movies: We think Justin Timberlake should stick to what he does best: music and cuteness and here's why. Check out the list at dose.cat Constantines Don't Like K When They're Angry: For Kensington Heights, this hard-touring rock band decided to focus on the "spirit of celebration" in music, paying tribute to Toronto's Kensington Market. Read the interview at dosexaconstantlnei 'J Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times "Weaves A Spell. Effective. What I admire about 'The Happening' is that its pace and substance allowed me to ask how I might respond to a wake-up call from nature. 0 From tM:VVritVb)reetor rx nc diAiii celiac at.pigiiaK M NIGHT SHVA MA TUTSI "4 HAPPEN I NCsH ,147oonv SCENES www.thehappsningmovie.con k I fl I f 01 Al A I I Checkdirectoryoriogontowww.clneplex.com, 111 I I lil mr I r Y I 111 1 1 ' www.empirerneatres.com or www.trtbute.ca 1 W I 1 1 1 M VI for locations and showtimes is scienc - Lm.4 LmJ edupation physical aducationl . 1 FALL IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN! A Great Night Out With Friends." Colin Bertram, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 1 fL. , :j rh . '; - V " Hum HBO W N OW PLAYING! MiSSrtm Go behind the scenes at passchendaelethemovie.com ? i !A IK . L-i I 1 For Theatre md Showtimei: Check local listings or visit disney.comWall-E At V J n c n a L R C K r nHFAAMlKK!l PG I ior inc new murr, cnnvnioia ana morel miii ii iiiiwiiiiw 1 1 u I! , f WiHmj

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