Archive for July 27th, 2008

Steely Dan Covered Twice

July 27, 2008


Woody Herman


Herbie Mann



Listen -Woody Herman – Kid Charlemagne – MP3″

Listen -Herbie Mann – Do It Again – MP3″

Greetings all.

I come you forlorn, as my vacation – during which much family fun was had (all within a 100 mile radius) was had – has come to an end and I must return to the sturm und drang of working for a living.
It’s been an eventful week, during which our diabetic cat had a seizure (scary shit), we went to a hot air balloon fest (which was amazing) and I was compelled to sit through ‘Mamma Mia!’ with my wife, which though I love her dearly, was an eye rolling, clock watching experience of the first order.
I hope everyone has been digging the Beatles covers in Funky16Corners Radio v.54. The tunes I bring you today continue on in the “covers” theme, but jump forward a few years on the timeline into the discography of Steely Dan.
Say what you will – and I know there are haters out there – but I have always been a HUGE fan of Steely Dan as well as Donald Fagen’s solo albums. I’m old enough to have grooved on their stuff when it was new, and thanks to the fact that my wife was also a big SD fan when I met here, we’ve spent a lot of time digging those albums together.
During a digging expedition a few months back, while plowing through a particularly large table full of 45s I happened upon (I think in the very same box) a pair of 45s in which Steely Dan songs were being covered by a couple of jazzbos (in fact it may have been the same box where I pulled Count Basie’s version of ‘Come Together’ featured in last week’s mix). The first one (and the least surprising of the two) was Herbie Mann’s version of ‘Do It Again’ (first performed by Steely Dan on their 1972 debut LP ‘Can’t Buy a Thrill’). Though I had no idea Mann had covered the Dan, it was unsurprising as he was known for covering then-current pop material.
The second 45 I dug out was a cover of ‘Kid Charlemagne’ (from ‘The Royal Scam’ in 1976) by Woody Herman. This was a little more of a surprise. Though Herman was a very hip dude, especially for someone who came to prominence in the swing era, I had no idea he’d ever dipped into the Steely Dan catalog. Woody Herman is an especially interesting case. He was active musically from the 30’s to the 80’s. His most famous band, the aptly named Thundering Herd was known as a hard charging unit and an incubator for progressive jazzers (like Stan Getz and Serge Chaloff). He kept a big band going years after it was economically feasible to do so, and stayed if not ahead – just a touch behind – the curve, even recording some excellent albums for Cadet in the late 60’s.
Herman’s take on ‘Kid Charlemagne’ comes from his 1978 LP, ‘Plays Chick, Donald, Walter & Woodrow’, which – if you hadn’t already figured it out – featured tunes written by Chick Corea, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, and Herman himself. It is – as expected – a pretty hip outing with a band that included Herman on soprano sax and clarinet, Joe Lovano on tenor and guest spots by Victor Feldman and Tom Scott (both of whom had guested on Steely Dan albums). The Herman band takes the tune at a brisk pace, with a little added synthesizer.
Herbie Mann’s version of ‘Do It Again’ comes from his 1973 LP “Turtle Bay’, which featured a bunch of rock material, including a cover of the Allman Brothers ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed’. I’m a huge jazz flute fan, and as one might expect Herbie gets in a grip of solo time, alongside some cool electric piano. There are those that will – with noses raised high in the air – scoff at Senor Herbie’s bare chested flute wrangling. He continually chased (and actually got, in 1975 with ‘Hijack’) pop success, and though I’m also a huge fan of “serious” jazz, I also dig jazzers working the pop side of the street.
I hope you dig the tunes, and I’ll be back later in the week with some blazing funky soul.


PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a new mix!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.