October 25, 1979
By David Huff
Big Brass Rock ‘N Roll
The band that popularized the taste of big brass in rock music returns.
Chicago, a veritable eight-man factory of gold and platinum albums, didn't invent the idea at the "big" rock band, nor the idea of jazz-rock fusion, contrary to the claims of their publicists. Artists like Miles Davis, Chick Corea and the original Blood, Sweat and Tears deserve those credits.
What Chicago did was take those artists' ideas, lode them down with some accessible rhythm and blues flavorings, and come up with a sound that appealed to a wider audience.
They outlived a rash of other would-be, brass-oriented "fusion" bands at the turn of the decade and went on to record 13 albums to date, the largest aptly named Chicago 13. Their incredibly long list of singles includes "25 or 6 to 4," "Make Me Smile," "Colour My World," "Saturday in the Park," "Dialogue: Parts 1 & 2," and a remake of the Spencer Davis classic, "I'm a Man."
Their musk has always been strong on melody and often features intriguing lyrics. Their trademark is slickly polished musicianship that gleams as brightly on the live stage as in the studio. Jazz enthusiasts call them rock, rock tans call them jazz and critics call them classy middle-of-the-road pop.
Through its twelve-year existence, Chicago has remained stable personnel wise. With the exception of guitarist/vocalist Terry Kath, who died in controversial shooting mishap last year the original lineup is still intact.
Members include Robert Lam keyboards and vocals; James Panko trombone; Lee Loughnane, trumpet al vocals; Laudir deOliveira, percussk Danny Seraphine, drums: Walt Parazaider woodwinds; Peter Cele' bass and vocals, and Donnie Chau replacing Kath on guitar and vocals.