Steely Dan: The Making of Aja

This documentary gets taken down/blocked from time to time (at least to me) so it’s worth checking out this Japanese subtitled version. Fascinating seeing these meticulous and obsessive musicians work with equally obsessive session musicians (and other amazing performers such as Wayne Shorter), without it ever becoming bloodless — infused with gospel, blues and some superb uptown funk — nuance, nuance, nuance. Beyond the putting together of the album we gain some insight into the Becker-Fagen dynamic musically and temperamentally. Check out Brian Sweet’s brief essay for the Library of Congress. Speaking of Sweet, for those of a philosophical bent, here are Ed Feser’s ever interesting thoughts: Steely Dan contra Roger Scruton and Jazz-funk phenomenologist.

Jazz-rock was a fundamental part of the 70s musical landscape.. [Steely Dan] wasn’t rock or pop music with ideas above its station, and it wasn’t jazzers slumming… it was a very well-forged alloy of the two – you couldn’t separate the pop music from the jazz in their music.

They’ve got a skill that can make images that aren’t puerile and don’t make you think you’ve heard it before… very “Hollywood filmic” in a way, the imagery is very imaginable, in a visual sense” and of their musical style: “Parker, Mingus, Blakey, I can hear in there.. Jazz Messengers I can hear in there, Bobby Timmons… the subject matter doesn’t matter, it’s the sound they’re making.