Chicago – Night & Day – Big Band (1995)

FrontCover1Night & Day: Big Band is the eighteenth studio album by the American band Chicago, and twenty-second overall, released in 1995. It is a departure from Top 40 material for a more thematic project, with a focus on classic big band and swing music.

Chicago left Reprise Records and started their own imprint, Chicago Records, to re-distribute their music. This album was carried by Giant Records, a subsidiary of Warner Music, who also distributes Reprise.

With producer Bruce Fairbairn, Chicago recorded Night & Day: Big Band from late 1994 to early 1995 and released it that May. Although Bruce Gaitsch played guitar on the sessions, the guitar slot would eventually be filled that year by Keith Howland, who remains Chicago’s present guitarist. Joe Perry of Aerosmith was brought in to add a solo to “Blues in the Night.”

The album reached #90 in the US, on the Billboard 200 chart.

Chicago made its “television variety debut” in February 1973 on a television special honoring Duke Ellington, “Duke Ellington … We Love You Madly,” which aired on CBS. They performed the Ellington composition, “Jump for Joy.” They were the only rock musicians invited to appear on the show. Walter Parazaider cited the group’s participation in the television special, and Duke Ellington’s comments to them afterwards, as important factors in their decision to record this album (by wikipedia)

Chicago 1995

Generally, when contemporary performers have taken on retro projects like this one, they have tended to emphasize their fidelity to the sources — consider Linda Ronstadt hiring arranger/conductor Nelson Riddle to recreate his string backgrounds for albums like What’s New. Chicago takes a different approach to the swing band classics it tackles here — it Chicago-izes them. The arrangements are by trombonist James Pankow, who manages to make everything from Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” to Glenn Miller’s theme “Moonlight Serenade” sound like a lost Chicago track. Those familiar with the originals, many of which were instrumental hits, may be surprised to hear the lyrics to songs like “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Clearly, the group is aiming more at pleasing contemporary fans than evoking nostalgia, and it succeeds in reinventing some well-established standards, even if older fans may find some of these versions radically altered. (by William Ruhlmann)

Chicago
Great production and very high musicianship. If you are of a certain age and don’t want to hear stylistically different versions of the classics then this is not for you. These are not covers, but rather they are versions of this great music. I had to listen a couple of times before I really started to appreciate these reimagined arrangements. Moonlight Serenade, Chicago, In The Mood, and Take The A Train are highlights. One of my very favorite Chicago recordings. It reminded me of when they were great once upon a time. Only thing that would have made this better is if Danny Seraphine with his jazz-fusion style were the drummer. Tris Imboden is a good drummer, but not suited to this type of music. The band swings, but Tris doesn’t. (Ralph Longo)

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Personnel:
Bill Champlin (keyboards, guitar, vocals)
Bruce Gaitsch (guitar)
Tris Imboden (drums, harmonica)
Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals)
Lee Loughnane (trumpet, flugelhorn)
James Pankow (trombone)
Walter Parazaider (woodwinds)
Jason Scheff (bass, vocals)
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Luis Conte (percussion)
Jack Duncan (percussion on 06.)
Sal Ferreras (percussion on 06.)
Jade (vocals on 03.)
Joe Perry (guitar on 07.)
Paul Shaffer (piano on 03.)
Bruce Fairbairn (trumpet solo on 01.)
Tonino Baliardo (guitar on 08.)
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The Gipsy Kings:
Nicolas Reyes and Patchai Reyes (vocals, rumba flamenco guitar)

Booklet01A

Tracklist:
01. Chicago (Fisher/Lamm) 3.07
02. Caravan (Ellington/Mills/Tizol) 3.23
03. Dream A Little Dream Of Me (André/Kahn/Schwandt) 3.13
04. Goody Goody (Malneck/Mercer) 4.04
05. Moonlight Serenade (Miller/Parish) 4.26
06. Night And Day (Porter) 5.36
07. Blues In The Night (Arlen/Mercer) 6.05
08. Sing, Sing, Sing (Prima) 3.22
09. Sophisticated Lady (Ellington/Mills/Parish) 5.11
10. In The Mood (Garland/Razaf) 3.44
11. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (Ellington/Russell) 3.39
12. Take The “A” Train (Strayhorn) 5.36

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