Steely Dan Sunday, "Throw Back The Little Ones" (1975)

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*** STEELY DAN SUNDAY INDEX ***

Steely Dan paid homage to Duke Ellington back on Pretzel Logic with the only cover song on a SD album, and less explictily so again with the closing track on Katy Lied, “Throw Back The Little Ones.”

There’s no Bubber Miley, Barney Bigard or Ben Webster type horn solos on “Throw Back,” but the arrangement of the song is very Ellingtonian. Horn arrangements have appeared on SD songs since the first album, but as add-ons to the basic rock tracks. Here, the majestic horns are more integral to the song, with a twisting chordal structure, light maneuvering, and tempo changes that turns this one-time orchestra into a vehicle for attaining a higher, more formal kind of music. That’s what Ellington did with his own big bands. In this way, Becker and Fagen introduced to rock listeners to the sublime sophistication of traditoinal jazz, and not merely mesh rock and jazz together to create a hybrid that has no clear trackback to jazz’s great figures like Duke, Satchmo or Parker. The piano-only coda played as an etude brings to fore the classical elements hinted at throughout the performance.

With such a heavily composed and arranged song as “Throw Back The Little Ones,” even Elliott Randall’s guitar solo takes a back seat to it; no ones talks about this solo like they do for his lead on “Reelin’ In The Years.” It matters none, though, as with “Your Gold Teeth II,” this composition is about reaching for the lofty standards set by Becker and Fagen’s biggest influences and coming damned close.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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