Night And Day


Giant/Warner Records, 1995

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


With the recent resurgence in interest in mambo, swing, and big band sounds, it's a shame Chicago released their Night And Day CD four years ago. Were it released today, it might get the venerable band back on the charts, and justifiably so. Night And Day is Chicago's tribute to the big band and swing era, and it's a romp through thirty years of musical history that's well worth the price.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The sound is crisp and clear, surprisingly light given the production of the late Bruce Fairbairn. The horns have a good deal of punch, but the guitars still sound like rock guitar; this dichotomy helps make these songs really Chicago's, as opposed to a stale tribute CD. The vocals are almost perfect -- Robert Lamm, Jason Scheff, and Bill Champlin seemed to really sit down and figure which of their distinctive voices should handle a specific cut, and that care shows.

The CD starts off with...what else?..."Chicago", and it's a fine finesse on the 1957 Frank Sinatra hit. From there it's a joyous parade of classics -- a bluesy version of "Goody Goody", originally recorded by Benny Goodman; Jimmy Lunceford's "Blues In The Night" (with special guest Joe Perry of Aerosmith); a flamenco take on "Sing, Sing, Sing" courtesy of the Gipsy Kings; and the tribal drumming on "Night And Day" adds a unique dimension to the Cole Porter classic.

When most artists would start the CD off with the strongest tracks, Chicago begins the CD's close with the two best things in their tribute repertoire. "In The Mood" is performed straight, that brassy and bright Chicago horn section handling the Glenn Miller classic with ease. The same horns, interwoven with Lamm's powerful vocals, do justice to Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore".

Unfortunately, Night And Day's close is marred by a few slight miscues on the last song, "Take The A Train". The closing vocals seem almost flat, and the slight edge of jazz-style atonality in the horn line doesn't add anything, and in fact detracts from the simple beauty of the melody.

The miscues are slight, though, and anyone who's discovering the joys of these musical forms should go out and pick up Night And Day, both as a decent introduction to the big band sound and as a faithful tribute by one of rock's more competent bands to music they love.

Rating: A-

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© 1999 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Giant/Warner Records, and is used for informational purposes only.