The concert was recorded in Japan and presented via satellite in support of the Chicago Night and Day (Big Band) album. The performance is not released, performed with Tsunoda Kenichi's Big Band , and one of my personal favorites in my Chicago live concert video collection.
Chicago moved on to a new project, embracing an idea put forward by record executive John Kalodner, and recording Night & Day (Big Band), released in May 1995 on Giant Records. The album features standards associated with Glenn Miller ("In The Mood") and Duke Ellington ("Don't Get Around Much Anymore," Sophisticated Lady," and "Take The A Train"), among others.
The association with Ellington helped convince band members to try the project, since it seemed to pay back a musical debt to the Duke. Back in the early '70's, Ellington had asked to have Chicago appear on his TV special, Duke Ellington: We Love You Madly, along with such company as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Peggy Lee, and Count Basie. After the show, Parazaider and Pankow went to meet Ellington, who was near the end of his illustrious career.
"The approach that we wanted to take on Night & Day - and I think were successful in doing - was to contemporize," says Imboden. "We didn't do anything traditional, at least in the rhythm section. " At the same time, however, the album continued the effort Chicago has always made to bring horns back to a primary place in popular music. "Horns were the vocals of the time," says big band enthusiast Lee Loughnane of the Swing Era. "They did all the playing, and then halfway through the song the vocalist would come in with a couple of choruses, and then he'd sit down again. Then rock 'n' roll comes out, and what was the rhythm section, the guitar, became the lead voice for a long time. And then Chicago comes, and we try to make the horns the lead voice again, and we've been pretty successful at it."
Says Robert Lamm, "When we embarked on this project, we weren't trying to say, well, this is what Chicago has always been about. Rather, we wanted to see where we could take it by staying within what we do, which is rock-pop with horns." Bill Champlin agrees. "For me, the challenge was to arrange the vocals so they would sound like traditional Chicago without taking away from the original feel of the songs," he says.
Joining Chicago on Night & Day (Big Band) were such diverse guest artists as world music favorites the Gipsy Kings, the hip hop R&B trio Jade, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, and David Letterman's bandleader Paul Shaffer, who also wrote the liner notes. Bruce Fairbairn, known for his projects with such hard-rock acts as Van Halen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Bon Jovi, among others, handled the production chores at the Armoury Studios in Vancouver.
In 1995 Chicago once again faced the task of finding a new guitarist. The band scheduled two days of auditions to hear a select group of prospects. As it turned out, however, the new group member would be one who crashed the party.
"They had a pretty firm list of guys that they were going to listen to," recalls Keith Howland. "I actually heard that Chicago was looking for a guitar player on the first day of the auditions through a friend of mine
who happened to be working in the building where they were being held." Howland contacted the band's management only to be told that the audition was closed. "As a last ditch effort, I just went ahead and drove down there, and I sat in the parking lot and waited for the band to show up," he says. Howland had had a brief contact with Jason Scheff, who had once stopped in to listen to a band he'd been in, and when Scheff drove up, he reintroduced himself to the bass player. "I said, 'Any chance I could get an audition?,' and he told me to go on home because they were full that day, but that he'd talk to the guys," Howland says .
They must not have heard anybody who satisfied them, because Howland got a call from Scheff that night saying they had extended a third day just to hear him." I went down, and I was the only guy to play that day," he recalls. I played through a bunch of tunes with them, did some a cappella background vocals with Bill, Jason, and Robert. We finished up, I was packing up my gear. They all went into the hallway and were talking. Bill came walking back in and said , 'Hey, you want a gig?'
What gave Howland the edge over the other guitarists the band listened to? It was a sound the members of Chicago had not heard in a long time. "When Keith made the audition, be played so much of the inside stuff and the rhythm stuff like Terry did that he was the guy," says Parazaider. "You just knew he was the guy to do this."
Howland's return to Terry Kath's rhythmic style of playing could not be more deliberate, and it has contributed to his fast acceptance from Chicago's fans.
In 1995, Chicago secured rights to its catalog of recordings originally made for Columbia between 1969 and 1980. That catalog has now been reissued on the group's Chicago Records label, which also has released sole efforts by the band members as well as other projects.
Saturday In The Park
Questions 67 and 68
You're The Inspiration
Hard Habit To Break
Colour My World
The Making Of Night and Day - Big Band
Night And Day
Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Make Me Smile
Just You And Me
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is
I'm A Man
Hard To Say I'm Sorry
In The Mood
25 Or Six To 4
If You Leave Me Now
Robert Lamm: pianos, keyboards, percussion, lead & background vocals
Lee Loughnane: trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, guitar, percussion, background vocals
James Pankow: trombone, percussion, background vocals
Walt Parazaider: saxophones, flute, clarinet
Bill Champlin: pianos, keyboards, guitars
Jason Scheff: electric bass, lead & background vocals
Tris Imboden: drums, percussion
Keith Howland: acoustic & electric guitars
Tsunoda Kenichi's Big Band