The Hoops McCann Band

Band members                              Related acts

- Chuck Berghofer -- bass

- Jim Cole -- sax

- Chuck Findley -- trumpet, flugelhorn, trumpet

- Mitch Holder -- guitar

- Paul Humphrey -- drums

- Slyde Hyde -- trombone, tuba

- Michael Lane -- keyboards

- Bill Perkins -- sax

- Jerome Richardson -- sax, flute

- Joe Roccisano -- conductor




- none known





Genre: jazz

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The Hoops McCann Band Plays the Music of Steely Dan

Company: MCA

Catalog: MCA-42202

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small promo stamp on back cover

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 5629

Price: SOLD $15.00


I'm a big Steely Dan fan, but I have to admit that after I snapped this one up at a yard sale and literally ran home to hear it, I had to wonder if perhaps my infatuation had gone too far ...  Mind you, there aren't all that many groups willing to take a crack at doing a Steely Dan cover (my 18 year old will readily admit that mastering 'Do It Again' on Guitar Hero may be the hardest song on the game), so I'm always intrigued to hear someone take a shot at a cover.


Rather than blab on-and-on about The Hoops McCann Band, I'll simply let you read the liner notes:


"Hey! How come I never heard of this Hoops McCann guy?"  you ask. "What does he play?" If you're a Steely Danophile you recognize Hoops McCann as a character in the lyrics of 'Glamour Profession' from the Gaucho album (MCA-6102). The Hoops McCann Band was first assembled to perform in the summer of '82 at The First Annual Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz, a three day event on the campus of Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, a pebble's throw from Portland. The audience response, coupled with the critical acclaim that ensued, was so encouraging that Hoops McCann not only came alive, it stays alive.

You can say it's chemistry. You can say it's a special kind of love affair. Or that it's in the believing. It really doesn't matter what you say. What does matter is that here is a wedding of talent that will knock you out! Hoops has already thrilled the guys who wrote the music, those who performed it, and, particularly, the Executive Producer, Dick LaPalm, whose mission it has been to make the public more aware of the depth and significance of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, aka Steely Dan. Dick is not only a friend and associate of Donald and Walter, but he is the originator of this special project. This is a role for which he has had much practice, having spent his entire adult life in the music business, both in and out of the recording studio, where he has consorted with the giants. All with whom Dick has worked have come to know his favorite axiom, "It can never be too good."

Most of the members of this Hoops McCann Band were in the original cast in 1982. The few who were not charter members have all been in the studio for Steely Dan recordings. So, there are no strangers here, only believers whose faith is amply expressed by the  cohesiveness and enthusiasm of these performances. This is music of the highest order, music that begs for repeated listenings, the better to savor the full dimension of The Hoops McCann Band. Joe Roccisano, who wrote all but two of the eight charts performed here, also conducted the band in the studio. It's easy to understand why Joe's reputation has prospered so dramatically and why he is in such great demand. 'Babylon Sisters' was arranged by the late Victor Feldman, a charter member of the Hoops McCann Band and an integral part of all the Steely Dan recordings. Finally, 'Glamour Profession', enjoys the big band patina of this arrangement by Gene Esposito.

These compositions appeared in their original form on Steely Dan recordings, except for 'Rapunzel' which was composed for the Pete Christlieb-Warne Marsh Quintet album, Apogee, a 1978 Warner Brothers release which was produced by Donald and Walter and, unfortunately, long since deleted from the catalouge. Interestingly, it was the same Joe Roccisano who did the arrangements for the Apogee date in 1978. To bring yet another sense of history to these present proceedings, it was Dick LaPalm who came up with the album title, Apogee. Thus, the seeds of The Hoops McCann Band have been cooking for a long time, slow cooking for that choice taste.

It's not by accident that each Steely Dan album had more than a reasonable number of jazzmen on the date. Walter and Donald come to their disposition for jazz quite naturally. They grew up in the New York City environs which allowed them the privilege of the jazz programming that abounded on radio in New York at the time. In that regard, Donald and Walter recently did a retrospective of Jazz Radio in New York in The Sixties. On that program, aired on WBAI-FM in New York, they paid homage to the many air personalities who, through their programming, had shaped their attitudes about music in general and jazz in particular. They were quick to agree what a fertile time it was for jazz on the airwaves, stating how deeply they each were influenced by what they heard as youngsters. As one who spent his all night hours playing jazz on the radio in New York in The Sixties, I'm grateful for the nice things they said about me and my colleagues of that era. I'm particularly pleased that they chose to use my old theme, 'Woofin' and Tweetin' as the theme music for their program.

To conclude, what we have here is a meaningful exploration by The Hoops McCann Band of the music of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who, as Steely Dan, set the culture on its ear with the music and their performances on record. It raises an interesting speculation: How much more dominant might they be if they made personal appearances? I submit that it's far too early to determine the ultimate influence that Donald and Walter will exercise on the music makers to come. My gut tells me that they will be regarded with increasing esteem with each successive exposure of their writing. To The Hoops McCann Band, under the baton of Joe Roccisano, I say BRAVO! You have played this wonderful music with fire, delicacy, gusto and devotion. The excellence you have achieved only makes me embarrassed to talk about it. All I want to do is to listen to it.


So after all is said and done what you get is a series of seven extended Dan instrumental covers and one uncredited outside number ('Rapunzel').  They're all given jazzy, big band arrangements, heavy on the horns with few straying all that far from the original arrangements.  Some performances are more enjoyable than others.  Given it showcased Mitch Holder's guitar and Chuck Berghofer's bass over the horns 'Thrown Back the Little Ones' and 'Babylon Sisters' would get my nod for the standout tracks, followed by 'Deacon Blues' and the closing medley 'Three By Wally and Donald' featuring a reprise of 'Black Cow', 'Deacon Blues' and 'Babylon Sisters' coming in slightly behind.  Clearly it won't appeal to everyone, but true Dan fans will probably be intrigued and at least want to hear it.  Of course that raises the question of why would you want to listen to jazzy covers when you could hear the classic originals?


"The Hoops McCann Bad Plays the Music of Steely Dan" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Black Cow (instrumental)   (Donald Fagen - Walter Becker)  - 6:19

2.) Babylon Sisters (instrumental)   (Donald Fagen - Walter Becker) - 4:55

3.) Rapunzel (instrumental) - 6:31

4.) Glamour Profession (instrumental)   (Donald Fagen - Walter Becker) - 4:24


(side 2)
1.) Thrown Back the Little Ones (instrumental)   (Donald Fagen - Walter Becker) - 6:51

2.) Deacon Blues (instrumental)   (Donald Fagen - Walter Becker) - 6:17

3.) Green Earrings (instrumental)   (Donald Fagen - Walter Becker) - 4:54

4.) Three By Wally and Donald (instrumental)   (Donald Fagen - Walter Becker) - 2:55