First of all, apologies for the truly awful photo above.
One of my all time favourite albums is Donald Fagen’s post Steely Dan 1981 debut solo album, The Nightfly. Indeed so much do I love it that I have made the Nightfly my alter ego for my music quiz hosting and the short time I DJed on Jubilee FM.
It is a record of complete perfection with its jazz infused tones and theme and was, for many, Steely Dan fans a step up even from their giddy heights.
Well, Malcolm Edmonstone has taken the album and arranged it for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland and performs a ‘big band’ rendition from start to finish (with five brilliant vocalists) and conducted by Andrew Bain in Edinburgh’s brand new Rose Theatre on Rose Street (in itself worthy of celebration because its a new small to mid-sized space that offers much potential).
The album astoundingly transforms itself into a jazz ensemble piece and guest guitarist, the venerable Malcolm Macfarlane, is mindbogglingly brilliant as lead guitarist and shares two of his own excellent filmic numbers prior to the Nightfly set.) One number has interesting nods towards a Sufjan Stevens sound, although I spoke to him after and he didn’t know Sufjan. (Malcolm, go listen.)
But the stars of the piece are obviously the orchestra (it is their gig after all). All young, all impressively talented and all bringing a classic album to life (that was recorded before any of them were born) with consumate ease.
The West coast Californian languor of Fagen’s late night radio station vibe is frankly cool as fuck and this makes the most of it.
Only 8 songs, but every one of them cool, chilled, jazzy, soulful and simply brilliant.
Sadly the Rose Theatre have a little work yet to do on their sound mixing but it wasn’t enough to damage a brilliant, classic, unique performance of truly great worth.