As I said in my last installment, the newest addition to my iTunes library, via ripping from vinyl, is Chicago X1. If you remember, I also said that his record makes me sad. And, as promised, I will tell you why. This album was released in 1977, and had, apparently, four singles released from it over the next two years. “You Are On My Mind” reached number 49, “Baby, What A Big Surprise” reached number 4. In 1978, “Little One” only made it to 44, while “Take Me Back To Chicago” fared even worse, only making 63. This would be the last album to be produced by James William Guercio.
It would also be the last album on which Terry Kath, founding member and lead guitar player, would appear. I’ll just quote the “Wikipedia” article. Around 5 p.m., on January 23, 1978, after a party at roadie/band technician Don Johnson’s home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, Kath took an unloaded .38 revolver and put it to his head, pulling the trigger several times on the empty chambers. Johnson had warned Kath several times to be careful. Kath then picked up a semiautomatic 9 mm pistol and, leaning back in a chair, said to Johnson, “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded”. After showing the empty magazine to Johnson, Kath replaced the magazine in the gun, put the gun to his temple, and pulled the trigger. There was a bullet in the chamber, and he died instantly. It was the week before his 32nd birthday. He left a widow, Camelia Emily Ortiz (whom he married in 1974), and a daughter, Michelle, born in 1976. Camelia was later married to Kiefer Sutherland from 1987 to 1990.
It is said that Kath was working on a solo album when he died. I’ve always been intrigued by a comment in the liner notes for Chicago XI, for the song “Takin’ It On Uptown.” Listing Kath as the lead vocalist, it then says, “This song appears through the courtesy of Cook County Music. Keep your eyes open.”
The next Chicago album, released in 1978, would be the first and only Chicago album to feature a name.
Here is a video clip of a performance of “Uptown” in Germany.
The next recording in my journey through 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die should have been Bach’s “Brandenburg Concertos,” but I couldn’t find the specific recording that Mr. Moon mentions, in Rhapsody. And, since I’m somewhat of a purist, I won’t listen to a different recording than the one he specifically mentions. So, skipping over that one, I came to “Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin,” also by J.S. Bach. The performance on this recording is by Arthur Grumiaux.
This is a Phillips recording, released in 1961, reissued in 2007, no doubt on CD. The caption for the article says, “Solo Masterworks for an Unlikely Instrument.” While I admit and will always respect that J.S. Bach was a genius to which we owe much of what we have in music today, I’m not sure if I could listen to 110 minutes of his violin solo music again, all in one sitting. It’s beautiful music, and the performance of Mr. Grumiaux was one of extreme virtuosity. But it is just one violin. Nothing else. No orchestra…no small ensemble. Just. One. Violin. Now, there were several times that I found myself looking at the title again, to make sure that it said “SOLO” violin. Seriously, there were times when it sounded like at least two violins were playing, and, occasionally, even three! The expertise is, at times, dumbfounding. The author’s key tracks are Partita No. 2 in D Minor and Sonata No. 3 in C. I have to agree with his assessment of Partita No. 2. Here is a youtube clip of part of that piece.
That’s it for today.