As one of the co-leaders of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen developed a smooth, sophisticated blend of jazz, R&B, pop and rock, a fusion that relied on lyrical wit and technical acumen. Fagen pursued this sound on The Nightfly, the 1982 solo debut he released in the wake of his split from Walter Becker, his musical partner since college. Fagen and Becker wound up reuniting in the 1990s, with Becker producing Fagen's second album, 1993's Kamakiriad and Fagen serving in a similar role for Becker's 1994 album 11 Tracks of Whack. These records propelled Steely Dan to mount a reunion tour -- during their peak in the 1970s, the duo famously retired from the road so they could concentrate on studio work -- which, in turn, led to the group releasing two final studio records in the early 2000s. After Steely Dan issued Everything Must Go in 2003, Fagen returned to his solo career, releasing Morph the Cat in 2006 and Sunken Condos in 2012, and he also busied himself with solo tours as well as playing with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs in the all-star revue the Dukes of September. After Becker's passing in 2017, Fagen continued with Steely Dan as a touring outfit, unofficially dubbing this incarnation the Steely Dan Band.

After the success of The Nightfly, Fagen suffered a case of writer's block; for the rest of the decade, he contributed music to the occasional film and briefly wrote a column for Premiere magazine in the mid-'80s. In the early '90s, he toured with the New York Rock and Soul Revue as he finished the material for his second album. With his former Steely Dan partner Walter Becker producing, 1993's Kamakiriad sounded like Aja recorded with '90s technology. It had some success on the adult contemporary charts, but it was overshadowed by the duo's decision to re-form Steely Dan and tour for the first time in nearly 20 years; the tour was a massive success. One more album -- 2003's Everything Must Go -- came out of the reunion before Fagen decided to begin work on his third solo album.

With death as its main theme, Morph the Cat appeared in March 2006. Soon after the album's release, Fagen embarked on his first solo tour. It was the beginning of an extended period of live performances for Fagen. Steely Dan toured several of their classic albums in 2009, by which time Fagen had become a regular at Levon Helm's Midnight Rambles in Woodstock, New York. In 2010, Fagen formed the touring blue-eyed soul revue the Dukes of September with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs. The group had a second tour in 2012, and after its conclusion, Fagen released the lively Sunken Condos, his first album since Morph the Cat. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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