Steely Dan Salutes Walter Becker at Baltimore Show
publish date: 2017-10-25
Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker passed away on September 3rd, just a month after playing his final concert with the band he founded with Donald Fagen in 1971. With dates already booked for Steely Dan to return to the road in October, Fagen decided that the show would go on, concluding a statement on his bandmate’s death with “I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.”
On Tuesday (Oct. 24), Fagen took the stage at Pier Six Pavilion on the Baltimore harbor, for the eighth show in his new role as the sole survivor of Steely Dan’s core duo. But he wasn’t exactly alone: Fagen is just one of 12 musicians in the ensemble, which includes a 4-piece horn section and a trio of backing singers known as "The Danettes." The band warmed up for a few minutes with ‘50s jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson’s “Fan It, Janet” before Fagen led them into the smooth groove of “Black Cow” that opens Steely Dan’s most beloved album, 1977’s Aja.
Fagen, 69, has always hunched over the keyboard with much of the posture and mannerisms of one of his idols, Ray Charles. And the older he gets, the more he outright resembles a white Ray Charles from a distance, flanked by The Danettes much as Charles was flanked by his Raylettes. But during Aja’s epic title track, he stood up and took center stage to play a melodica for the first of several times over the course of the night, blowing on the tiny reed organ -- and for a moment becoming an unofficial member of the horn section.