Verizon Theatre Review
GRAND PRAIRIE – Boz Scaggs slyly jammed “Lowdown.” Michael McDonald soulfully crooned “I Keep Forgettin’.” Donald Fagen relentlessly grooved “Hey Nineteen.”
That’s all I needed to hear. Three songs could have concluded Saturday night’s the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue 2012 gig at Verizon Theatre and I would have been happy. Not only are we talking about a trio of expertly written and perfectly executed tunes, but they were delivered with the help of a nine-piece band including a horn section and two female background vocalists.
The musicianship was off the charts. With help from McDonald on keyboads, Fagen on piano and Scaggs on guitar, that ensemble of players reveled in a mature, uncluttered sound encompassing R&B, pop, jazz and blues. The two-hour, 23-song set list highlighted hits by each of the principals plus a smattering of well-chosen covers.
The Plano-reared Scaggs embodied a sultry take on Teddy Pendergrass’ classic 1980 R&B staple “Love T.K.O.” McDonald belted “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Fagen offered a spirited version of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In the City.”
The idea for the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue traces back to the late ’80s and early ’90s when Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs formed the New York Rock and Soul Revue with fellow Steely Dan member Walter Becker and the late Charles Brown and Phoebe Snow. McDonald and Fagen had worked together in the ’70s when the former Doobie Brothers member sang and played on a handful of Steely Dan albums.
That same casual camaraderie permeated the concert. Background vocalists Catherine Russell and Carolyn Escoffery ably took the lead microphone, most notably on “Piece of My Heart” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” respectively. Trumpet player Michael Leonhart, a regular Steely Dan horn blower since 1996, got plenty of spotlight solo time, as did guitarist Jon Herrington, who’s another Steely Dan musician. Bassist “Ready” Freddie Washington gave us them wicked licks during “Lowdown.”
The more familiar songs got the best crowd reactions, of course. McDonald’s “What a Fool Believes” and “Takin’ It to the Streets,” both Doobies numbers; Fagen’s Steely Dan cuts “Reeling In the Years” and “Peg;” and Scaggs’ “Miss Sun” got the audience duly engaged.
Not that any extra encouragement was needed. When you combine stellar players, memorable songs and potent voices the result is adult music with heart and soul. Yes, such a concept still exists.
Posted: Monday 16 July 2012