It has been twenty-three years since drummer Danny Seraphine has been part of the group Chicago, which he co-founded in 1967 with the late Terry Kath and Walt Parazaider as the Big Thing. (The three had also previously worked together in Jimmy Ford and the Executives and the Missing Links.)
By the time of the group’s first album, a double LP, the band became Chicago Transit Authority, shortened to Chicago by the second album when the real CTA threatened to sue. Ironically, Chicago Transit Authority had moved to Los Angeles before becoming a success and Seraphine’s new band is called California Transit Authority.
Made up of first-class Hollywood session players, the new CTA writes and plays new brass-infused rock and jazz as well as giving its own unique take on much of the catalog of the old CTA, attempting to restore the grit and cross-genre experimentation of the original band in its early years before it become a pop-ballad hit machine.
What is significant about the appearance of the new CTA on “The Heart and Soul of Chicago” lineup is that it reunites Seraphine with Bill Champlin, who was part of Chicago from 1981 until 2009, the two not having performed regularly together since 1990. It was Seraphine who lobbied to get Champlin, best known prior to Chicago for his work with the 1960s group Sons of Champlin, into Chicago as the vocal successor to Terry Kath.
Champlin not only sang the Chicago hits associated with Kath, such as “Make Me Smile” and “Colour My World,” live but also wrote for the band and had hits of his own with Chicago as lead vocalist, including “Look Away” and “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love.” Champlin also appears on the new CTA’s just-released second album “Sacred Ground.”
As an added bonus, Dennis Tufano, the original lead singer of the Buckinghams who has not been a regular part of that band since embarking on a solo career in 1983, will also appear, singing not only Chicago music which he manages to bring his own charismatic style to, but Buckinghams hits such as “Kind of a Drag,” “Don’t You Care” and “Hey Baby.”
Although much of the early Buckinghams music had horns as well, they were not used live, but in this configuration, that music can be heard with the group’s original singer and in their original instrumentation which, ironically, served as legendary Chicago producer James Guercio’s first foray into recording horns before going on to produce Blood, Sweat & Tears and the first eleven Chicago albums.
Also on the bill is 25 or 6 to 4: The Chicago Experience, a popular local Chicago tribute band that plays the music of Chicago in a straight-ahead manner. (Dennis Polkow)
May 31 at 8pm, Arcadia Theatre, 105 East Main, St. Charles, (630)962-7000. $39-$89. June 1 at 8pm, Copernicus Center, 5216 West Lawrence, (773)777-8898. $59-$79.