This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Goodnight everyone, and have a toddlin' weekend


It's Friday night. Time to unwind with our regular Friday night feature on This Just In.

The weekend has finally arrived.

The sun has set.

The evening sky has erupted. 

Let's put controversy and provocative blogs aside for the rest of this work week and smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.


Chicago the band


The horn band Chicago went into the studio in December of 1994 and January 1995 to devote their 22nd album to an endeavor they had never attempted before. The result was a loving, respectful tribute to the big band sound, but done in Chicago's sound.

In subsequent interviews, band members would say that listeners would be able to recognize these songs that went back to the 30's and 40's, but would also comprehend immediately that it was Chicago performing.

On tonight's blog feature, Chicago, who will perform with Earth, Wind, and Fire at Summerfest next Tuesday, June 30th, LIVE, playing selections from their Big Band album, "Night and Day."

From the book, The American Songbook:

"In 1935, while a student of Joseph Schillinger, Glenn Miller wrote a simple composition as a mathematical exercise. Miller picked up the piece years later when he was a member of Ray Noble’s orchestra and Edward Heyman supplied a lyric titled, 'Now I Lay Me Down to Weep.' A new lyric was subsequently written by historian George T. Simon titled, 'Gone with the Dawn’ and yet another was tossed on the pile by Mitchell Parrish (who specialized in new lyrics to old songs) called 'Wind on the Trees.' He finally came up with the winner, 'Moonlight Serenade.' That title was inspired by Miller’s recording of Frankie Carle’s 'Sunrise Serenade'."

Stunningly beautiful, "Moonight Serenade" was Glenn Miller's theme song. It's cool to hear the lyrics. It's also cool to hear what should be a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band perform it (No, Chicago's not been inducted).

Live from Japan, December, 1995.....soak in the music and the words.

Not only did Chicago not butcher quite possibly the greatest big band classic of all-time, they gave it an interesting, and I would say reverent twist.

A few years ago, my wife and I took my mom to see the current edition of the Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Pabst Theater. My mother, and this is the God's honest truth, hates any attention or focus on her. Our tickets, I swear, were front row, the three center seats.

Orchestra leader, band director, and trombonist Larry O'Brien always seemed to look down at my mother when he spoke between numbers. My mother in her big band days never, I mean never missed a chance to head out to a dance hall and trip the light fantastic. She adored Glenn Miller. To see her, tears rolling down cheeks as a bunch of kids who weren't alive when Glenn Miller was in the Armed Forces play all his big tunes is a memory I shall cherish always. To know that one of my favorite groups saw fit to honor this legend will stick with me always as well.

Incidentally, Clarinda, Iowa will soon begin construction on the Glenn Miller Museum.


From the website of public radio station WICN:

"Chosen as the title for (Cole) Porter’s 1946 film biography, 'Night and Day' may be Porter’s most famous song. However, as with so many musicians, his most popular creation began to plague him. William Hyland in his book The Song Has Ended said, "Porter later cursed 'Night and Day.' It haunted him wherever he went because every subsequent song was compared to it." But with its explicit passion, driving rhythm and unusual harmonic changes, 'Night and Day' continues to be a favorite of instrumentalists and vocalists and is one of the most covered jazz standards. Recordings by the Eddy Duchin Orchestra, Charlie Barnet, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby reached the pop charts, and two of those, by Duchin and Sinatra, would make second appearances as reissues. Sinatra recorded the song many times and called it a 'standard classic.' Noted lyricist Alan Jay Lerner gave Porter the ultimate accolade, 'Cole was the only composer and lyric writer in the entire musical world who ever knew how to write a passionate song. To this day, that’s the truth. Everybody else could – when we’re fortunate – write a tender song or a romantic song or a wistful song or a nostalgic song, but only Cole could write passion'."

Here is the title song of Chicago's big band album.

Time for our closing number.

David Miller, a
professional swing fan and radio host told National Public Radio during a 2000 interview that one of Glenn Miller’s most memorable and famous pieces featured a saxophone face-off midway and was built on a “simple understandable riff, exquisite, but simple.”  Listen to it once, Miller told NPR, and you would never forget it.

Joe Garland, who was black, is credited with writing the piece, but it is difficult to pin down who wrote what back in those days because people were not diligent about getting copyrights. We do know that black writers had little choice but to solicit white band leaders.

Garland first pitched this soon-to-be classic to famous bandleader Artie Shaw. Shaw turned it down because it was six minutes long (Artie, who gave us Begin the Beguine couldn’t chop it down?) and wouldn’t fit on one side of a 78 rpm.

Bad move, Artie. He could have used the money made off this big hit to pay for some of those high-priced wives he had.

Joe Garland then went to the Glen Island Casino to attempt to sell Glenn Miller. The famous bandleader thought the composition had potential. He built in the famed false ending. Dancers loved it. How did the band know when to move from playing so softly, so softly, so softly, to playing fast and loud again? Miller would watch the dancers on the floor. When they were getting tired, he’d cue the drummer who would hit a cowbell, cueing the rest of the band that on the next turn….BLAST AWAY!

Good night, everyone.

Sleep well.

And have a great weekend!


By the way.

Feel free to move the furniture.

And get down!

Who's the lovin' daddy with the beautiful eyes
What a pair o' lips, I'd like to try 'em for size
I'll just tell him, "Baby, won't you swing it with me"
Hope he tells me maybe, what a wing it will be
So, I said politely "Darlin' may I intrude"
He said "Don't keep me waitin' when I'm…

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