The resident Sunday Night band -- and what a band! -- consisted of Marcus Miller on bass (also musical director of the show), Omar Hakim on drums, Hiram Bullock on guitar and Phillipe Saisse on keyboards.
The show was transmitted on December 18th and Jools Holland came on and, with his usual dry humor, asked the band to play his theme music. They obliged with a short burst of Isaac Hayes' Shaft.
He went through the list of guests, giving each one an enthusiastic build-up and introduced Donald Fagen with the words: "And half of the legendary duo Steely Dan -- a man rarely seen on television... ever. And who we're very lucky to have with us tonight... Mr. Donald Fagen."
Patti Austin (who once covered a Squeeze song, Holland was delighted to announce) kicked off the proceedings with a version of the standard They Can't Take That Away From Me, with Fagen guesting on grand piano. He looked comfortable and enthusiastic and patently enjoyed the outing.
Next came Earl Klugh doing an instrumental composition of his own called Dr. Makumba. This time Joe Sample had joined them on the stage and took over on the piano. He executed a very fine solo, too; Donald "I-can't-quite-cut-it-in-the-rarefied-place-where-jazz-musicians-live" Fagen had moved to a DX7 to add the occasional synthesizer flourish. The cameramen avoided focusing on him too many times during this number -- probably on Fagen's own instructions!
An announcer on the show and star of two Jonathan Demme films (Married to the Mob and Something Wild), Sister Carol, then played two reggae numbers with her band. All the other guest players had by now disappeared.
They came out of yet another commercial break with David Sanborn interviewing Joe Sample briefly, reminiscing about his 30-year career and the 50-odd albums he's produced in that time before they performed Spellbound, the title track from his new album, followed by When The World Turns Blue, a Sample/Will Jennings composition.
The "climax" of the show was reserved for Fagen. Tommy LiPuma was brought on to the stage and thanked all his guests one by one. It was at this point that Fagen looked slightly uneasy; shifting nervously on his stool and averting his eyes when the camera closed in on him. He nodded, mouthing "Thank you," to the chorus and applause that greeted the announcement of his name.
Sanborn asked LiPuma the reason for his final choice of music. "Well, I thought it would be nice to end with a song that has a positive note, and since most of the girls have sung backgrounds on both Steely Dan albums and Donald's solo album, I thought we would do one of Donald's solo compositions -- I.G.Y.
Fagen himself remained seated behind the DX7; Patti Austin took up the vocals, Earl Klugh returned to strum his acoustic guitar and Sanborn played alto saxophone. Marcus Miller and the rest of the Sunday Night band, plus Sister Carol and her Eye Life Players completed the lineup on a packed stage.
The four background singers swung in with the intro, humming the horn lines from the recorded version and Patti Austin came in singing the line "Get your ticket to that wheel in space..." She looked completely at home with Donald's lyrics, but unfortunately the performance was marred after only a couple minutes when they began running the show's lengthy credits over the song. Donald, meanwhile, looked as happy as he had done at any time during the entire program, two-handedly fingering the synth and even almost managing a smile when the camera zoomed in on him. Immediately the list of names was finished, the show ended abruptly in mid-song. Damn them!