Listen To: “Night & Day (Big Band)” - Chicago
I’ve been a huge Chicago fan nearly my whole life and Night & Day [YouTube link], a release of jazz standards in 1995, was a bit of a surprise to me. It shouldn’t have been as these songs are a natural fit for the band but, Chicago being Chicago, they didn’t rest on their laurels on just creating the usual renditions that everyone else has. Each of the songs on this album is a definite Chicago take on the standard.
For instance, listen to “In the Mood” which is more funk than swing and has a harmonized vocal section with lyrics they wrote for the song:
Always been the kind of girl to hold it back When you know that you want to Someone always had to tell you where it’s at Now you know that you want to Somethin’ in the music’s gonna make you move Now you know that you want to The rhythm’s gonna put the woman in the mood Now you definitely want to
In the mood, in the mood In the groove, in the mood You’ve got yourselves an attitude In the mood, in the mood In the groove, in the mood You’ve got yourselves an attitude
This is another jazz standard I have heard my whole life without knowing there were lyrics for the song. Another song I never knew had lyrics until I heard their version, and to me the best track on the album, is “Moonlight Serenade”. A duet between Jason Scheff and Robert Lamm, this song covers the sound of Chicago through their history.
The song is pretty much the standard modernized until it hits 1:36 when it flips over to Chicago’s sound in the 1970s with the comping piano (very reminiscent of “Saturday in the Park”) and horns that sound just like what we heard on the earliest Chicago albums.
From 2:12 up to 3:10 we’re back to the jazz standard. Then at 3:10 it flips back to Chicago, this time Chicago from the mid-80s thru the mid 1990’s when this album was released.
As a fan of the band for so long this song just gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. This is the band at their very best. Scheff and Lamm are so good in this, especially Lamm whose voice has always been so smooth and easy on the ears. It’s also a quick time travel through Chicago’s history in sound from the earliest days through today.