HomeKenny Vance's Acapella Album Lovingly Revisits 1950s Music

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A couple years back, when I interviewed Donald Fagen for his Dukes of September tour -- he, Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald took turns singing favorite oldies -- I asked if he might be doing any Jay & the Americans songs.

It was kind of a cheeky question. While Fagen and Walter Becker got their start arranging horn and string parts for Jay & the Americans, they went in a vastly different -- most would say more sophisticated -- musical direction with Steely Dan.

While Fagen said he would not, he also advised me to take a good listen to the work of Kenny Vance, one of Jay & the Americans' founders. "He's done some interesting stuff," he said. (Vance had first hired the two, thus giving them their start.)

That was good advice. Since Jay & the Americans, the New York-based Vance -- who is now 69 -- has been searching for the dreamy romantic honesty, the origins, behind the schmaltz of the late-1960s pop vocal groups. While not a big name to the public, he has held varied, interesting music jobs. He booked bands during "Saturday Night Live's" early years, even appearing once as the musical guest. and wrote the music (and provided Armand Assante's singing voice) for the 1999 movie about a singing group, Looking for an Echo.

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