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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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MARK MASTERS ENSEMBLE

Everything You Did

Capri 74123-2

 

 

1. Show Biz Kids

2. Bodhisattva

3. Do It Again

4. Charlie Freak

5. Black Cow

6. Josie

7. Fire In The Hole

8. Kings

9. Aja

10. Chain Lightning

 

Billy Harper - Tenor sax

Tim Hagans, Louis Fasman, Les Lovitt - Trumpets

Anna MjŲll - Vocals (tracks 2, 4, 5)

Hamilton Price - Bass

Peter Erskine - Drums

Stephanie O'Keefe - French horn

Les Benedict, Dave Ryan, Ryan Dragon - Trombones

Don Shelton - Alto sax, soprano sax, alto flute

John Mitchell - Tenor sax, bassoon

Gene Cipriano - Tenor sax, English horn

Gary Smulyan - Baritone sax

Brian Williams - Bass clarinet

Brad Dutz - Vibes, percussion

Oliver Lake - Alto sax (track 10)

Sonny Simmons - English horn (track 3)

Gary Foster - Alto sax (track 7)

Dave Woodley - Trombone (track 9)

 

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen created a unique mixture of rock music and jazz in their group Steely Dan, which flourished in the 1970s. Arranger Mark Masters here takes ten of their songs and bumps up the jazz element, while retaining Steely Danís rhythmic punch. Three items come from Aja, perhaps Steely Danís most familiar album (1977). But the remaining tunes come from Becker and Fagenís earlier, lesser-known work, which Mark Masters may have chosen because it gave him greater scope for invention without being accused of changing the tunes for the worse.

In fact Masters does a masterly job in rejigging the material, with help from a splendid band containing many experienced jazz musicians. He also creates some unusual textures Ė for example in Do It Again, where French horn, bassoon and English horn generate a pastoral effect. Mark Masters also allows his musicians freedom to solo as they wish. Indeed, Tim Hagansí trumpet solo on Show Biz Kids might well be called free improv, and Billy Harperís tenor solo on the same track is very free. Harperís edgy tenor sax also adds character to Josie.

Another musician who augments the musicís effectiveness is Gary Foster, whose atmospheric alto sax adds to the mysterious quality of Fire in the Hole. And the rhythm is firmly underpinned by bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Peter Erskine (the latter played with Steely Dan for a time).

So is this album a pretentious attempt to gild the lily or a successful transposition of Becker & Fagenís music? It is certainly hard to match Steely Dan, whose exceptional mix of musical styles made them inimitable. But Mark Masters doesnít try to imitate them: he uses their compositions as starting points for his own imaginative journeys.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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