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The Nightfly is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Donald Fagen. Produced by Gary Katz, it was released October 1, 1982 by Warner Bros. Records. Fagen was previously best known for his work in the group Steely Dan, with whom he enjoyed a successful career in the 1970s. The band separated in 1981, leading Fagen to pursue a solo career. Although The Nightfly includes a number of production staff and musicians who had played on Steely Dan records, it was Fagen’s first release without longtime collaborator Walter Becker.
Unlike most of Fagen’s previous work, The Nightfly is almost blatantly autobiographical. Many of the songs relate to the cautiously optimistic mood of his suburban childhood in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and incorporate such topics as late-night jazz disc jockeys, fallout shelters, and tropical vacations. Recorded over eight months at various studios between New York City and Los Angeles, the album is an early example of a fully digital recording in popular music. The nascent technology, as well as the perfectionist nature of its engineers and musicians, made the album difficult to record.
The Nightfly was well-received, both critically and commercially. It was certified platinum in both the US and UK, and generated two popular singles with top 40 hit “I.G.Y.” and the MTV favorite “New Frontier”. Among critics, The Nightfly gained widespread acclaim, and received seven nominations at the 1983 Grammy Awards. The relatively low-key but long-lived popularity of The Nightfly led Robert J. Toth of The Wall Street Journal in 2007 to dub the album “one of pop music’s sneakiest masterpieces.
Anthony Jackson has been a distinctive voice on the electric bass since entering the scene in New York City. He began playing the piano as a teen before switching to the guitar, and finally picking up the bass after being influenced by legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson (see “Influences” below).
Jackson is a student of Jerry Fisher, Lawrence Lucie, and Pat Martino. He has performed live in more than 30 countries, and has recorded in more than 3000 sessions on more than 500 albums. His bass introduction for the O’Jays’ “For The Love Of Money” (on their classic album Ship Ahoy) earned him a co-writer’s credit on the song alongside Gamble & Huff.
In 2010, Jackson released his first leader album, INTERSPIRIT, with Greek bassist Yiorgos Fakanas from Abstract Logix.