An embarrassment of riches.
That’s one way to describe the Steely Dan catalog. Though what the group has been doing for the past 40-plus years is ostensibly pop music, the Dan’s version of pop involves rich harmony, extended chord voicings and dazzlingly musical soloing, all of which is more often than not the terrain of jazz, not pop, where all concerned seem to be forever looking at their watches and wondering when the chorus is going to arrive.
At times, one almost felt that the incredible detail and overarching “hipness” invested in the music’s construction was akin to casting pearls before the swine, for the jazz aficionado would likely balk at the music’s pop elements, while the pop listener responded only to the groove and the chorus hook. Yet somehow, it all worked, and Steely Dan became both a “musician’s band” and a platinum-selling pop act.
Ironically, during the height of their commercial prowess, the members of Steely Dan – principals Donald Fagen and Walter Becker – steered clear of the concert stage, concentrating their considerable efforts on the recording studio.
All of that changed in the early ’90s, when band became a touring act much to the delight of a worldwide fan base starving for smart, sardonic and far-reaching pop music. The band has been touring steadily ever since, and happily, its current road jaunt – “The Dan Who Knew Too Much” – includes a stop at 8 p.m. April 29 in the Seneca Niagara Casino Events Center, Niagara Falls. Tickets start at $90 (box office, Ticketmaster).
Email Jeff Miers at firstname.lastname@example.org