Morph the Cat is a Grammy Award-winning 2006 album by Donald Fagen, his first solo release since 1993. The nine-track album was released in the US on March 14, 2006. It was very well received by fans as well as the press.
Additional musicians performing on the album include drummer Keith Carlock, guitarists Wayne Krantz, Kenny Wessel, Jon Herington, Hugh McCracken, Ken Emerson, clarinetist Lawrence Feldman, pianist Ted Baker and saxophonist Walt Weiskopf, among others.
The album, a mental rumination of death and old age, blends Fagen's patented storytelling and groove-oriented, backing vocal-laden style. "H Gang" is the lead single. It is available in digital format. The album was released as an audio CD, a vinyl record and a Special Edition CD/DVD. The DVD features versions of the album in Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1 playable on DVD-Video players and high-resolution stereo and surround tracks for DVD-Audio players. The 5.1 mix won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Surround Sound Album.
Fagen embarked on a 20-date studio tour (with the Donald Fagen Band) on March 1, 2006; nearly two weeks before the release of the album itself. Fagen performed songs from his latest album, his earlier solo work, as well as classic Steely Dan favorites. The tour was his first solo tour "since high school." The dates left out many areas along the USA's eastern seaboard and its south/southeast regions, leading some fans to correctly surmise that Fagen would join partner Walter Becker on a summer Steely Dan tour.
*Producer: Donald Fagen
*Tracking Engineer: Elliott Scheiner
*Overdub/ProTools Engineers: Brian Montgomery, T.J. Doherty
*Mix Engineer: Elliott Scheiner
*Second Mix Engineer: Brian Montgomery
*Assistant Engineers: Eddie Jackson, Jim Keller, Chad Lupo, Steve Mazur, Brian Montgomery, Matt Scheiner, Bryan Smith, Allan "A.T." Thomas
*Piano Technicians: Sam Berd, Wayne Williams
*Drum/Guitar Tech: Artie Smith
*Music Copyist: Gary Blu
*Mastering Engineer: Darcy Proper
*Additional Mastering: Joseph M. Palmaccio
*Mastering Assistant: Maria Triana
*Management: Irving Azoff
*Production Coordinators: Jill Dell'Abate, Cindy Osborne
*Production Assistant: Mary Lou Arnold
*Art Direction: Jeri Heiden
*Design: Ryan Corey
*Photography: Danny Clinch
ReferencesThis text has been derived from Morph the Cat on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0
Donald Jay Fagen (born January 10, 1948 January 10, 2009, Retrieved January 9, 2010) is an American musician and songwriter, best known as the co-founder, lead singer, and the principal songwriter of the rock band Steely Dan (along with partner Walter Becker). Fagen is known for his use of jazz harmonies, elaborate arrangements, and attention to detail. Fagen launched a successful, if sporadic, solo career in 1982, spawning three albums to date.
Fagen was born in Passaic, New Jersey, on January 10, 1948 to Joseph "Jerry" Fagen, an accountant and his wife Elinor.Steely Dan: Reelin in the Years by Brian Sweet - From the age of 12 to 17, Elinor sang in a hotel band in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains until bouts of stage fright (a condition her son would later be afflicted with) forced her to discontinue performing live. Donald would later recall: "I can't ever remember when there was silence around the house. She was either playing records or singing."
Around 1958, the Fagen family moved from Passaic first to the suburb of Fair Lawn, and then quickly moved and settled into a ranch-style house in Kendall Park, New Jersey. The transition greatly upset Donald: he detested living in the suburbs. He would later recall to an interviewer that it "was like a prison. I think I lost faith in judgement… It was probably the first time I realised I had my own view of life." His life in Kendall Park would later inspire tracks on his album The Nightfly.
In the late 1950s, Fagen became interested in rock and R&B music; his first record purchase being Chuck Berry's "Reelin' and Rockin'". Around age 11, after receiving musical recommendations from a cousin and attending the Newport Jazz Festival, he quickly became a self-declared "jazz snob. I lost interest in rock n' roll and started developing an anti-social personality."Steely Dan: Reelin in the Years by Brian Sweet - Fagen would regularly take the bus to Manhattan to see Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, and Miles Davis perform. Soon afterwards, he learned to play the piano, and also played baritone horn in the in high school marching band. Fagen also began a life-long fondness for table tennis during his teenage years.Steely Dan: Reelin in the Years by Brian Sweet -
The family was of the Jewish faith. Donald celebrated his bar mitzvah at Kendall Park's Congregation Beth Shalom in 1961, a synagogue his father helped found.Bringing up Steely Dan Retrieved on 14-September 2009
After graduating from South Brunswick High SchoolSouth Brunswick High School: Notable Alumni and Faculty in 1965, Fagen enrolled at Bard College to study English literature, having been inspired by Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.Steely Dan: Reelin in the Years by Brian Sweet - While at Bard, Fagen met musician Walter Becker. The duo, along with a revolving assortment of musicians which included future actor Chevy Chase, formed various groups called The Leather Canary, The Don Fagen Jazz Trio, and the Bad Rock Band.Fruchter, Rena. I'm Chevy Chase...and You're Not. Virgin Books, 2007. Fagen would later describe his college bands as sounding like "The Kingsmen performing Frank Zappa material."Steely Dan: Reelin in the Years by Brian Sweet - None of the groups lasted long, but the partnership between Fagen and Becker would continue for decades. The duo's early career included a stint with Jay and the Americans under pseudonyms, and in the early 1970s, as pop songwriters, prior to forming Steely Dan.
Responding to an ad in The Village Voice, Fagen and Becker met Denny Dias and together founded Steely Dan in August 1972. They initially formed the core of the band and co-wrote all the group's music; on tour and record, Becker played bass (and later lead guitar) and Fagen played keyboards, as well as performing almost all of the lead vocals on their recordings.
After releasing their third LP in 1974, the other members gradually left (or were fired from) the band, which gradually evolved into a studio project headed by Becker and Fagen. From the mid-70s onwards, Steely Dan recorded their albums exclusively with jazz and rock session musicians. They scored their biggest success in 1977 with the platinum-selling album Aja.
After a lengthy period of inactivity as a band which began in the early 1980s, the duo of Becker and Fagen revived Steely Dan in the mid 1990s, and have since produced two more Steely Dan studio albums: 2000s Two Against Nature which won several Grammys, Everything Must Go (2003), as well as the live CD Alive in America (1995) and a live concert DVD entitled Two Against Nature, which included material spanning much of the band's history.
After Steely Dan's breakup in 1981, Fagen released his critically acclaimed solo debut album, The Nightfly, in October 1982. It reached #11 on the Billboard album chart and was certified Platinum for sales of over a million copies in the United States alone. Its premiere single was "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)". The song hit the Adult Contemporary Top 10 and peaked at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100. The follow-up single, "New Frontier" peaked at #34 AC and #70 Pop and was aided by a popular MTV music video. The Nightfly was nominated for several Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year. It was significantly more jazz-based than Fagen's Steely Dan work. Rhino Records released a special DVD Audio version of The Nightfly in honor of the album's 20th anniversary in 2002.
Fagen's second solo album, 1993's Kamakiriad, was produced by Becker. It climbed into Billboard's Top 10 but sold fewer copies than The Nightfly, topping off at 900,000 in sales. Kamakiriad was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Album Of The Year.
Recording sessions for Fagen's third solo album, Morph the Cat, began in August 2004 and the album was released March 14, 2006. Performing on the album are Wayne Krantz (guitar), Jon Herington (guitar), Keith Carlock (drums), Freddy Washington (bass), Ted Baker (piano), and Walt Weiskopf (sax). Upon its release, Morph the Cat received universal acclaim and was later named Album of the Year by Mix magazine. Fagen was also given 'Producer of the Year' award. The 5.1 mix of Morph the Cat won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Surround Sound Album. Grammy.com, retrieved May 7, 2008
All three of Fagen's albums previously released on the DVDA format have now been released in Warner's latest format MVI (Music Video Interactive) as a boxed set. Each album features a DTS 5.1, Dolby 5.1 and PCM Stereo mix but no MLP encoded track, along with bonus audio and video content. Customers will also be able to select any track or any portion of a track and use it as their mobile phone ringtone.
In March 2006, Fagen embarked on his first-ever solo tour to support Morph the Cat. This theater tour of the Northeast (including one Canadian date in Toronto), the Midwest, and the West Coast played to sold-out houses and excellent reviews. Fagen's management also sold VIP packages for the tour, which included a pre-show party, premium seats, and access to the band's sound checks. This was mocked on his song-writing partner Walter Becker's website.http Fagen joined Becker for a Steely Dan/Michael McDonald tour the following summer of 2007.
He also toured with the New York Rock and Soul Revue. The 1986 debut album by Rosie Vela, Zazu, inspired the first collaboration between Fagen and Becker following the disbanding of Steely Dan. Rosie Vela: Zazu This led to their reunion as a writing team and the creation of a new touring version of Steely Dan. The following year Fagen co-produced Becker's solo debut, 11 Tracks of Whack.
Fagen has stated in a recent interview that he plans to record his fourth solo album in spring of 2010 that will be lighter in tone and not an extension of his Nightfly/Kamikiriad/Morph The Cat trilogy.http It is expected to be released in 2011http
Work for, and with, other artists
In 1977, he played synthesizer on Poco's Indian Summer album.
In 1978, he coproduced, with Walter Becker, "Apogee," http an album of straight-ahead jazz featuring Warne Marsh http and Pete Christlieb,http both on Tenor, and Lou Levy http on piano. Also co-wrote, with Walter Becker, "Rapunzel," the third track on the album.
In 1983, he played synthesizer for the track "Love Will Make It Right," which he also wrote, on Diana Ross's solo album Ross.
In 1986, he wrote the title track to the Yellowjackets' album Shades.Yellowjackets History Retrieved on 14-September 2009
Also in 1986, Fagen and Becker contributed to Rosie Vela's album Zazu
In 1991, The Manhattan Transfer recorded Fagen's song "Confide in Me" on their album The Offbeat of Avenues.
In 1992, Jennifer Warnes recorded "Big Noise New York" (co-written by Fagen and Marcelle Clements) on her solo album The Hunter.
Fagen's own versions of both "Confide in Me" and "Big Noise New York" were released as 'B' sides for the CD singles of the Kamakiriad tracks "Tomorrow's Girls" and "Snowbound," respectively. They were subsequently made available on the Bonus CD of The Nightfly Trilogy boxed set in 2007.Donald Fagen: The Nightfly Trilogy Retrieved on 15-September 2009.
In 2008, Fagen played synthesizer on the album I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too by folk singer Martha Wainwright."Martha Wainwright:'I like old guys cos they like me!'" Retrieved on 15-September 2009.
Since 2008, Fagen has made regular appearances with the Levon Helm Band, performing at Levon's Midnight Ramble concerts in Woodstock, New York. He plays keyboards and sings with his stepdaughter, Amy Helm (Amy's mother is Fagen's wife, Libby Titus).
He recorded "True Companion" for the 1981 animated cult film Heavy Metal.
He wrote "The Finer Things", which appeared on the soundtrack to the Martin Scorsese 1983 film The King of Comedy, as well as sang background vocals on the song. David Sanborn is given credit for the main part of the song.
He recorded "Century's End" for 1988's Bright Lights, Big City.
He recorded "Reflections", a Thelonious Monk cover, along with guitarist Steve Khan, for the film 1988 Arthur 2: On the Rocks.
He recorded "Blue Lou" an instrumental piece, for the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross.
Fagen wrote briefly in the 1980s for Premiere magazine, including a few witty pieces on Henry Mancini and Ennio Morricone. These are available online from his website.http Retrieved on 14-September 2009 His website also features other articles he has written, such as ones for Slate.com.
In 1988, Fagen was a co-producer of the Broadway soundtrack album The Gospel at Colonus.
In the late 2000s, he appeared as the "Wise Man" in a promotional video for the Electro-Harmonix Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai digital delay/looper. This short promo video was directed by frequent Steely Dan trumpet player Michael Leonhart.Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai - Film by Michael Leonhart - Digital Delay/ Looper
* 1982 The Nightfly – #11 US; #44 UK
* 1993 Kamakiriad – #10 US; #3 UK
* 2006 Morph the Cat – #26 US; #35 UK
* 2007 The Nightfly Trilogy (3-MVI DVD + 4-CD Box Set)
* 2011 untitled fourth solo album
In 1984, Fagen was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree by his alma mater, Bard College.
In 2001, both Fagen and Becker received Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from Berklee College of Music. They both accepted their degrees in person., retrieved October 15, 2007
In 2001, Steely Dan (Fagen and Becker) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1993, Fagen married fellow songwriter Libby Titus.Donald Fagen-Biography Retrieved on 2009-9-10. Although the two of them had attended Bard College at around the same time, they didn't become friends until 1987 when they were both going backstage after a Dr. John concert.Return of the Dark Brothers Retrieved on 2009-9-10.
Libby Titus co-wrote the song "Florida Room", which appears on 1993's album Kamakiriad.'Kamakiriad -Lyrics and Credits' from "Discography Section" Retrieved on 2009-9-10
NME - January 1983
ReferencesThis text has been derived from Donald Fagen on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0