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Aja
     

Aja

4.7 9
by Steely Dan
 

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By this late stage, Steely Dan was less a band than an all-star aggregation of studio musicians assembled to perform the works of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. On AJA, the two leaders assembled one of their finest units and made them sound like a road-tested, hard-bop quintet (and in fact, the band

Overview

By this late stage, Steely Dan was less a band than an all-star aggregation of studio musicians assembled to perform the works of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. On AJA, the two leaders assembled one of their finest units and made them sound like a road-tested, hard-bop quintet (and in fact, the band included legendary jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter). Though the lyrics on "Aja" and "Black Cow" were typically oblique, the Steely Dan sound touched a pop nerve, as proved by the staying power of the latter song's billowy bass line, sampled in the late '90s for hits by Tatyana Ali and Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz. And when Fagen and Becker turned wistful on "Deacon Blues" -- particularly the verse, "They call Alabama the Crimson Tide/Call me Deacon Blues" -- they created an enduring hit. "Peg," "I Got the News," and "Josie" also found their way onto certain radio formats, but, sadly, this recording marked the end of a glorious era for Steely Dan: The duo released one more album before moving on to solo projects and, ultimately, the obligatory reunion efforts.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Steely Dan hadn't been a real working band since Pretzel Logic, but with Aja, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's obsession with sonic detail and fascination with composition reached new heights. A coolly textured and immaculately produced collection of sophisticated jazz-rock, Aja has none of the overt cynicism or self-consciously challenging music that distinguished previous Steely Dan records. Instead, it's a measured and textured album, filled with subtle melodies and accomplished, jazzy solos that blend easily into the lush instrumental backdrops. But Aja isn't just about texture, since Becker and Fagen's songs are their most complex and musically rich set of songs -- even the simplest song, the sunny pop of "Peg," has layers of jazzy vocal harmonies. In fact, Steely Dan ignores rock on Aja, preferring to fuse cool jazz, blues, and pop together in a seamless, seductive fashion. It's complex music delivered with ease, and although the duo's preoccupation with clean sound and self-consciously sophisticated arrangements would eventually lead to a dead end, Aja is a shining example of jazz-rock at its finest.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/23/1999
Label:
Mca
UPC:
0008811205621
catalogNumber:
112056
Rank:
1580

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Steely Dan   Primary Artist
Donald Fagen   Synthesizer,Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals,Whistle (Instrument)
Michael McDonald   Vocals,Background Vocals
Larry Carlton   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Pete Christlieb   Flute,Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Victor Feldman   Percussion,Piano,Keyboards,Electric Piano,Vibes
Don Grolnick   Keyboards,Clavinet
Plas Johnson   Flute,Saxophone
Steve Khan   Guitar
Bill Perkins   Flute,Horn,Saxophone
Joe Sample   Keyboards,Electric Piano,Clavinet
Tom Scott   Flute,Conductor,Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Lyricon
Wayne Shorter   Flute,Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Paul Humphrey   Drums
Chuck Rainey   Bass
Clydie King   Vocals,Background Vocals
Jim Keltner   Percussion,Drums
Walter Becker   Bass,Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Gary Coleman   Percussion
Venetta Fields   Vocals,Background Vocals
Chuck Findley   Horn,Brass
Steve Gadd   Drums
Jay Graydon   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Ed Greene   Drums
Paul Griffin   Keyboards,Electric Piano,Vocals,Background Vocals
Jim Horn   Flute,Saxophone
Richard Hyde   Trombone
Jackie Kelso   Flute,Horn,Saxophone
Rebecca Louis   Vocals,Background Vocals
Rick Marotta   Drums
Lew McCreary   Horn
Michael Omartian   Piano,Keyboards
Dean Parks   Guitar
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie   Drums
Lee Ritenour   Guitar
Timothy B. Schmit   Bass,Vocals,Background Vocals
Denny Dias   Guitar
Slyde Hyde   Brass
Paul Humphrey & the Cool Aid Chemists   Drums
Lou McCreary   Brass
Sherlie Matthews   Vocals,Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Donald Fagen   Liner Notes
Tom Scott   Horn Arrangements,Horn Conductor
Walter Becker   Liner Notes
Irving Azoff   Contributor
Gary Katz   Producer
Roger Nichols   Engineer
Elliot Scheiner   Engineer
Schmitt   Engineer
Bill Schnee   Engineer
Michael Diehl   Reissue Design
Dinky Dawson   Sound Consultant
Stuart Dinky Dawson   Sound Consultant

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Aja 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
JohnEBGood More than 1 year ago
This is just great music. Black Cow stands out. The sax and drums jam on the title track is awesome. Good memories from the seventies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have Style, Class, and Taste... This magnum opus is for you. This album broke new ground in '77. When I heard it for the first time, I was amazed at the depth of feeling, and scope of intellect. A beautiful work that is a true classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album marks the end of the first stage of Steely Dan's many incarnations. All previous albums led to this work, and for all that has followed by Becker/Fagen, this album is seminal. The players, all well known on their own, would form an all-star band on their own, and, since most had worked with B/F before, were well seasoned as to what they were expected to add to the mix. The performances of Steve Gadd, Wayne Shorter and Bernard Purdy alone are reason enough to buy this album. The songwriting talents of the two composers are at their pithy, bittersweet and cynical pinnacle, and Fagen's idiosyncratic voice has never sounded better. If a listener is interested in the best of Steely Dan, or the best of what some call "jazz-rock fusion," than this album is a "must have."
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Aja' is about as sophisticated and professional that rock music got during the 1970's, and the high point of Steely Dan's recorded works. I remember first hearing the 'Aja' hits "Peg" and "Josie" when there were first on FM rock radio in the late '70s and how different they sounded from anything else at the time (and to this day). It's always been hard to describe Steely Dan music, but their influence has loomed large on 'lite jazz' music (i.e. much of what appeared on the GRP label, jazzers who have a leaning for pop styles), and any rock acts that wanted to reach for more highly developed musical pastures and professional studio craft (i.e. Billy Joel, Doobie Brothers, Eagles), just as the Beatles did in the late '60s when (just like Steely Dan later) ceased touring to concentrate on studio recording. Similar to how after hearing Edward Van Halen and Randy Rhoads (the late guitarist on the first two solo Ozzy Osbourne albums), that the hard rock and metal guitarist had to re-evaluate his thinking on the genre, after hearing 'Aja', anyone who was a studio musician had a new benchmark to reference (not that previous SD albums weren't amazingly brilliant, 'The Royal Scam' in particular). The title track has arguably the finest Steve Gadd drumming ever; plus the song itself is just about perfection in every way imaginable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Almost all 'albums' I have listened to over the years have a few songs which I didn't like or took a while to grow on me. This album took hold of me cut by cut and has never let go 20 something years later. It is a tight, polished masterpiece and should be in anyone's collection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is no question that this disk will evoke many fond memories of Steely Dan's earlier hits. The sound quality for the vocals and musical accompanyment was excellent and the recording was true to the material and performances of Steely Dan of yesteryear. While playing the album, I realized that I no longer had the patience nor the inclination to listen to several of his longer arrangements such as "Black Cow". I proably would have enjoyed shorter and more up-beat hits such as "Ricky Don't Lose that Number". There is no question that music such as Steely Dan's Aja remains true to its time and place; however, our tastes in music, for example, may change as swiftly as the constantly moving beat of our own lives over time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clearly, this is the one of the finest albums of the 1970's and of jazz-rock music. Simply put, Deacon Blues is one of the greatest fusions of different music styles ever recorded.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago