Chicago, “Devil’s Sweet” from Chicago VII (1974): Saturdays in the Park

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Let’s start by saying jazz-fusion normally isn’t my cup of tea, nor am I well educated in the genre. So, you may easily conclude that I have no business writing this review. I prefer more melodic jazz with a more straightforward approach. However, I do find some satisfaction in Chicago’s “Devil’s Sweet.”

This lengthy instrumental was a surprise. It unexpectedly and pleasantly appeared as a featured track – and it takes up a large chunk of side one – on Chicago’s last experimental album, 1974’s Chicago VII. The reason it was a surprise is because many fans (this one included) became concerned about the group’s future after the extremely uneven album they released the previous year. So, even though I don’t totally embrace “Devil’s Sweet,” I salute the virtuosity, eclecticism, arranging skills, and especially the willingness to try something new that Chicago composers Danny Seraphine (drums) and Walt Parazaider (woodwinds) brought to the table.

Seraphine’s playing is a highlight. While Chicago’s co-founder could rip it up with the best of them, his solo here is largely played with brushes – a nice, subtle touch most drummers don’t often employ. It’s also unusual that a percussion solo is the main reason to listen to a track, but in this case it’s true.

“Devil’s Sweet” runs over ten minutes and may seem noisy at times, so it’s perfectly understandable if you work up a total dislike for it While I would never search out “Devil’s Sweet,” I don’t hit the skip button when it comes up either. It should be appreciated for what it is and for what Chicago attempted to do.

‘Saturdays in the Park’ is a multi-writer, song-by-song examination of the music of Chicago. Find it here at Something Else! each weekend.

Charlie Ricci

Charlie Ricci

Charlie Ricci maintains Bloggerhythms, where he talks about music, concerts, and a wide range of other musical topics. In August 2008, his site placed at No. 87 on a list of the Top 100 music-related blogs according to Alexa, a web ranking service. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Charlie Ricci
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