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 bandSee more details below

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.

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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:
1828

Related Subjects

Tracks

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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

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